Merkel 'confident' to get own majority in key euro vote

25th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday she was confident she would not have to rely on the opposition to pass a crunch parliamentary vote on the eurozone, amid threats of a backbench rebellion.

"I would like to get my own majority and I am confident I will get this. I am going to campaign for that this week," she said on a talk show with a well-known German media personality ahead of the keenly awaited vote Thursday.

The conservative chancellor was reiterating comments she made last week.

The bill would implement the decision by EU leaders on July 21 to expand both the scope and volume of Europe's rescue fund to aid debt-stricken Greece and other struggling eurozone countries.

While the legislation is certain to pass -- the opposition has vowed to vote in favour -- Merkel faces the humiliation of having to rely on her rivals amid a threatened revolt by members of her own centre-right coalition.

The vote is certain to be watched very closely by jittery financial markets as Europe and the world look to Merkel, as the leader of the continent's top economy, to steer the euro to safety.

Several deputies from her junior coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democrats, have said they might vote against the bill or abstain and a failure to win her own majority could spark a political crisis for the chancellor.

Merkel also dismissed growing speculation that debt-mired Greece would leave the eurozone and quashed talk that Germany could bring back the beloved deutschmark and cut itself off from the troublesome eurozone.

"This I can rule out," she said, adding: "We would not be able to export any of our excellent export goods."

Germany is the world's second biggest exporter of goods after China.

Asked whether Greece could exit the 17-nation zone, Merkel said that if Greece left, others would follow and it would encourage financial market speculators to attack the next nation with fiscal problems.

"First Greece would go, then this country, then that country. At the end, what would happen is that we would be left standing all alone and we would have to revalue" the currency.

Talk is growing that Greece might collapse under the weight of its own debt mountain and be forced to default, raising the question of whether it could stay in the eurozone.

Auditors from the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank were due to resume their assessment of Greek efforts to tackle its debt burden before deciding whether to disburse the next slice of aid.

Greek authorities say they need the eight-billion-euro (11-billion-dollar) package to continue paying the bills, amid growing social unrest.

Merkel, who has previously warned of a "domino effect" if Greece were to leave the euro, nevertheless said the situation in the eurozone was "serious" and that there "was no easy solution".

She complained there was nowhere to turn in the current European set-up when countries broke the rules.

"For example, one should be able to force Greece in court to give up a slice of its sovereignty. That is the completion of the currency union ... That is something that has to be developed step-by-step, that is for the future."

And despite her domestic political woes, she dismissed talk in Berlin that she could be forced to jettison her liberal partners in favour of a return to a grand coalition with the chief rivals of her conservatives, the Social Democrats (SPD).

"I am convinced that we have much more common ground with the FDP than we would have with the SPD," she said, despite constant bickering within her coalition.

© 2011 AFP

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