BUSINESS

Merkel faces skepticism over Cyprus bailout aid

Chancellor Angela Merkel confronted a growing chorus of skepticism from inside and outside Germany’s coalition on bailout financing for Cyprus, possibly endangering her majority among lawmakers who will have to approve any aid.

Rainer Bruederle, the parliamentary leader for Merkel’s Free Democratic coalition partner, told Bild newspaper he sees no majority in the lower house as long as German taxpayers have the impression that they’re bolstering tax evaders.

He echoed statements from opposition Social Democratic Chairman Sigmar Gabriel, who told Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper the SPD won’t support a Cyprus bailout in its current form.

“There are too many question marks surrounding Cyprus,” Bruederle told Bild in an interview on Wednesday.

“From what is known currently, I don’t see a majority for financial aid.”

The roadblock to the latest bailout in the debt crisis could hamper euro-area finance ministers already squabbling with the International Monetary Fund on how to help the Mediterranean island nation.

Merkel signaled that a final decision on Cyprus could be held up.

Euro finance ministers who had aimed to lock in a deal this month may delay it until March, after the country’s presidential election next month, Handelsblatt reported.

“There can’t be special conditions for Cyprus; we have the same rules throughout Europe,” Merkel said in Berlin on Wednesday after meeting with Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi.

“We’re a long way from the end of the talks.”

[Bloomberg]

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