German Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying to head off a potential revolt from as much as a third of her bloc’s lawmakers as she tries to up line support for a compromise deal with Greece, party officials said.
Caucus leaders of Merkel’s party are working on the objectors, telling them they may be asked to approve further aid to ward off a default even if Greece refuses to implement all changes demanded by creditors, according to three officials. Merkel has been calling small groups of dissenters to the chancellery to tell them that Greece leaving the euro area would risk causing geopolitical instability in the region, one of the people said. All the officials asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.
Merkel’s desire to keep Greece in the euro is fraught with political risk given the level of exasperation in Germany with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after four months of brinkmanship. Her strategy depends on Greece’s government making enough concessions to allow her to sell the deal to lawmakers and the German public.
As European officials warn that time is running out for Greece’s finances, Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led caucus will discuss the way forward at its closed weekly meeting in Berlin on Tuesday. While some German policy makers have hardened their stance against helping Greece, others are hinting at more flexibility to avert a financial collapse.
“Should we seriously go and prescribe in detail what the Greeks are allowed to spend and what revenue they can have?” Deputy Finance Minister Thomas Steffen said in an interview. “I say no. It’s the rough framework that has to be clear.”
Merkel’s bid to rally her party bloc behind further aid reflects her view that giving up on Greece would be a broader setback for European unity and influence. While she has backed bailouts since Europe’s debt crisis spread from Greece in 2010, this may be her biggest test of persuasion yet.
“The intensity of discussions will increase considerably with a view to finding a solution for Greece,” Alexander Radwan, a Merkel-affiliated lawmaker who voted in favor of granting Greece a temporary extension of its bailout in February, said by phone.
The chancellery and the Finance Ministry declined to comment on their discussions with lawmakers about Greece.
Any substantial changes to the conditions for Greece’s 240 billion-euro ($271 billion) aid program need approval by the full German lower house, or Bundestag. As many as 100 of Merkel’s 311 lawmakers may still be holdouts, one of the officials said. Even so, Merkel has won Bundestag backing for all bailouts since Europe’s debt crisis spread from Greece in 2010, partly with the support of coalition partners and the opposition Greens. Her coalition controls 504 of the Bundestag’s 631 seats.