Merkel, Schaeuble Lobby Lawmakers for Greek Aid Extension

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble urged German lawmakers to back an extension of Greece’s aid program, party officials said, a vote that’s required for Europe’s formal approval.

With the vote in Germany’s lower house tentatively scheduled for Friday, Merkel went before a closed-door meeting of her Christian Democratic bloc’s parliamentary group Tuesday to lobby for the extension after euro-area finance ministers backed it, according to a party official who asked not to be named because the meeting was private. While supporting the four-month reprieve, she said Greece’s government has more work to do, the official said.

Schaeuble, addressing the meeting before Merkel, “said we can justify making a request to approve the extension this week,” according to Sebastian Hille, a spokesman for the Christian Social Union party, which is part of Merkel’s bloc.

As the biggest contributor to Europe’s bailouts, Germany’s position is critical to keeping Greece’s financial lifeline going. Lawmakers and officials in Germany, Finland and the Netherlands have signaled they won’t stand in the way once their governments signed off on the aid extension.

Finland’s government plans to put the vote to a 25-member legislative committee where it has a majority, and the Dutch government said Monday it won’t seek a parliamentary vote at all. Merkel can count on a majority in her coalition that comprises Germany’s two biggest parties, giving her control of 504 of the 631 lower-house seats.

Merkel and Schaeuble didn’t comment to reporters after the weekly caucus meeting.

Klaus-Peter Willsch, a Christian Democrat lawmaker who consistently opposed bailouts during Europe’s debt crisis, said dissenters lack the support to threaten Merkel’s majority. Willsch has said he expects fewer than 10 dissenting votes in the lower house, or Bundestag, where Christian Democrats plan to hold a test vote on the Greek extension on Thursday.

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