German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) talks with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble during a debate ahead of a vote on a third bailout for debt-mired Greece at German lower house of parliament (the Bundestag) in Berlin on August 19, 2015.  AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALL
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) talks with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble during a debate ahead of a vote on a third bailout for debt-mired Greece at German lower house of parliament (the Bundestag) in Berlin on August 19, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALL

Berlin : The German parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to back a third bailout for Greece, with Chancellor Angela Merkel spared a major rebellion of deputies opposing the aid.

 Interrupting their holidays for the second time this summer to cast ballots on a Greek rescue, lawmakers in the Bundestag lower house appoved the 86-billion-euro ($95-billion) rescue by 454 votes to 113.

Eighteen abstained and attendance was markedly lower than during a vote last month approving the start of negotiations on the package.

While the approval was virtually guaranteed given the dominance of Merkel’s left-right “grand coalition,”the key question was whether the chancellor would face damaging dissent within her own camp.

The mass-market daily Bild had predicted around 120 MPs alone could jump ship. An official breakdown of how deputies voted was expected but much of the dissent seemed to come from the far-left Linke party rather than the conservatives.

Germany’s powerful finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, had opened the debate telling MPs it would be “irresponsible” not to approve a third bailout for Greece.

He said Athens had earned a fresh opportunity to salvage its economy with the help of its eurozone partners, including its de-facto paymaster Germany. “There is no guarantee that all of this will work and there can always be doubts,” he said.

“But considering the fact that the Greek parliament already approved most of the (stipulated reform) measures, it would be irresponsible not to seize this chance for a new beginning in Greece,” he said to applause from the chamber as Merkel looked on.

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