Failure for euro-rebels in Merkel coalition party

16th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Rebels in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's junior coalition partner failed Friday to win party backing in opposing the eurozone's permanent bailout fund, its leader said.

Philipp Roesler, who heads the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and is both economy minister and vice chancellor, said an internal ballot had narrowly failed to achieve a quorum.

More than 54 percent of members who took part in the referendum had opted to back the party line in supporting the eurozone's 500 billion-euro ($650 billion) permanent bailout fund, he said.

"FDP is and remains a clearly pro-European-oriented party," Roesler said.

Triggered by eurosceptics in the party, which has been in power with Merkel's conservatives nationally since 2009, the ballot failed to get the necessary 21,500 votes.

Merkel has won parliamentary backing in recent months for bolstering rescue funding to help eurozone countries struggling under the debt crisis despite fears of a backbencher rebellion.

Even before the result, the FDP vote provoked controversy due to criticism over the way it was organised with several leaders declaring it would fail days before the deadline for votes to be cast.

On Wednesday, FDP general secretary Christian Lindner announced his abrupt resignation, adding to the party's woes after a leadership crisis and a rash of poll defeats.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who was replaced by Roesler as head of the FDP in May, welcomed the result saying the pro-business party remained "on a course of European integration".

© 2011 AFP

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