Euro fund bill passes German parliament with large majority
The German parliament passed a beefed-up rescue fund for stricken eurozone countries by a large majority Thursday in a vote seen as crucial to stem financial market turmoil.
The vote before the Bundestag lower house on expanding the 440-billion-euro ($599 billion) bailout fund was also seen as a crucial test of Chancellor Angela Merkel's authority amid fears of a major backbench rebellion.
Among the 611 deputies present, 523 approved the measure, 85 voted against it and three abstained.
It was not immediately clear whether Merkel had had to rely on votes from opposition MPs to secure her majority, as an official headcount continued.
Traders and European partners had been on tenterhooks ahead of the vote as Germany, the eurozone paymaster, became the 11th country among the 17 using the euro to agree to boost the scope and size of the fund, called the EFSF.
Opening the lively, at times fraught debate, Volker Kauder, who heads Merkel's parliamentary group of conservatives, said it was a pivotal moment in the spiralling eurozone debt crisis.
"Today in the Bundestag, we have an important decision for the future of our country and for the future of Europe," he said, as he called on rebels within the centre-right coalition to toe the line.
© 2011 AFP