Germany's parliament begins key debate on euro bailouts

Germany's parliament begins key debate on euro bailouts

The German parliament began Thursday an emotional debate on boosting the scale of the eurozone's bailout mechanism, with tensions showing inside Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition, DPA reported.

Many conservative Germans fear that the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) will weaken their savings and usher in rampant inflation.

Some of Merkel's legislators say they will vote against the bill, although main opposition parties support it.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told the first-reading debate in the Bundestag house of parliament that the enlarged EFSF was vital to stabilize the euro currency.

The bill is scheduled to face its final third vote in both chambers of parliament on September 23.

Schaeuble defended the plan from accusations that it let deficit spenders off the hook, saying it only gave them time to recover their competitiveness.

"We cannot let them off finding a solution to their structural problems," he said.

Conservatives charge that guarantees to other eurozone nations undermine parliament's authority over German federal spending. To cater to those objections, some predict the bill will be modified before it passes into law, to allow more legislative oversight.

Earlier this week, straw polls showed 14 government legislators may vote against the bill, but that is not enough to prevent its passage.

Sigmar Gabriel, leader of the main opposition Social Democrats - who are committed to the bill - accused Merkel of undermining both the markets and other eurozone nations by her early reluctance to join in bailouts.

"Why have you allowed the entirety of European and international politicians and the financial markets to get exasperated and suspicious about Germany's policy?" he said.

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