German Chancellor Angela Merkel will struggle to win parliamentary majorities within her coalition for measures to fight the debt crisis as support in her ranks dwindles, opposition Green Party leader Juergen Trittin said.
While Merkel pushed a 130 billion-euro ($171 billion) second bailout package for Greece through the lower house of parliament on Feb. 27 with support from the opposition, her coalition failed to muster an absolute majority on the strength of its own lawmakers. Previous anti-crisis measures have all passed with a coalition majority.
“The chancellor will lose support bit-by-bit with every vote on the euro,” Trittin, who is co-leader of the Greens’ parliamentary caucus, said in an interview in Berlin on March 1. “We will continue to stand by Europe, but you can’t rely on the coalition anymore and the majorities will dwindle.”
Six days after the vote and two weeks after a spat over selecting Germany’s next president almost ended Merkel’s government with the Free Democratic Party, coalition leaders met late yesterday in Berlin to try to find common ground. With agreement on patent rules, energy efficiency and education, the ruling parties emerged in the evening and made a show of unity.
“In a very friendly atmosphere we found agreement in a whole series of political areas,” Hermann Groehe, the general- secretary of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, told reporters after the talks. He stood alongside his counterparts in the FDP and the CDU’s Bavarian Christian Social Union sister party.
‘In Full Swing’
Such comity was lacking when 17 coalition lawmakers broke ranks over the Greek package in the lower house, or Bundestag. The 304 votes from Merkel allies fell short of the 311 required for an absolute majority. That prompted Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Social Democratic opposition parliamentary leader and foreign minister in Merkel’s first-term government, to say that the “collapse of the coalition is in full swing.”
Party leaders meeting in Berlin yesterday didn’t discuss the nomination of former East German dissident Joachim Gauck for the presidency, Groehe said. On Feb. 19, the FDP joined the opposition in backing Gauck, leaving Merkel little choice other than to support a candidate she initially rejected. FDP Chairman Philipp Roesler told Die Welt newspaper that Merkel’s party had raised the possibility of ending their alliance over the disagreement.
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