NEWS

Merkel may face more defections in Greece vote, ally Fuchs says

merkel-may-face-more-defections-in-greece-vote-ally-fuchs-says

German Chancellor Angela Merkel may face more defections in this week’s Greek bailout vote amid uncertainty about the International Monetary Fund’s involvement, one of her senior lawmakers said in an interview.

IMF participation in Greece’s third aid program, which euro-area finance ministers backed on Aug. 14, is essential for lawmakers in Merkel’s party bloc, deputy caucus leader Michael Fuchs said on Bloomberg Television. Merkel has said she’ll lobby her lawmakers for support before Wednesday’s lower-house ballot.

“If the IMF is on board, if the IMF really says — yes, we’ll come on board in September and continue to finance Greece next year, then of course I will vote pro,” Fuchs said by phone from his constituency in the western city of Koblenz. “The IMF is a critical question for all of us.”

Fuchs said he hasn’t decided whether he’ll back more aid for Greece. Merkel’s 310-member caucus will be asked to approve an 86 billion-euro ($96 billion) aid package without an assurance that the IMF will commit more funds. Merkel said Sunday she’s confident that IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde will back the fund’s participation in October.

Discussions between Merkel, Lagarde and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble about the fund’s stance are continuing and “there might be some changes by tomorrow, even,” Fuchs said. Failure to get a clear IMF commitment would mean “there could be more” opposition than the 60 dissenters at a July ballot that authorized bailout negotiations with Greece.

Greece’s third bailout could work without the fund, though “it would be better with the IMF,” Karl-Josef Laumann, a national executive committee member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, told reporters in Berlin on Monday. “But we also need to see our European commitments.”

[Bloomberg]