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European Political Drama Continues With Doubts Merkel Gets Majority Vote on Leveraging EFSF

“……In an internal vote on Tuesday, 11 deputies from Merkel’s CDU/CSU group voted against the motion and two abstained. Coalition sources said they expected between 2 and 5 FDP lawmakers to vote against and up to 6 to abstain.

If more than 19 coalition lawmakers vote against or abstain, Merkel will be dependent on opposition votes in a political humiliation that could weaken her ability to push through future rescues……..

Leverage would make it possible to borrow more, probably from the European Central Bank, for financial firefighting without increasing the EFSF’s size, but critics say it would also raise German taxpayers’ liability for any losses.

Some lawmakers are concerned that EU officials are just waiting for them to approve what they were assured would be the final increase before pressing ahead with bigger bailout plans.

French Finance Minister Francois Baroin made clear there were tactical reasons to avoid discussing how to boost the fund’s firepower before the German decision.

“It is out of the question to put forward, three days from the Bundestag (lower house) vote, the issue of whether we should increase the fund… Let’s not open Pandora’s box on something that is a red flag for Germany,” he said.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon told parliament France would set out proposals to step up the battle against “speculative attacks” on the euro zone once the German vote was over.

The fund’s status was bound to evolve but it was premature to say whether it might work “like an equity fund with a lever effect,” Baroin added.

Merkel assured Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou at a meeting on Tuesday evening in Berlin that Germany wants a strong Greece and would do everything necessary for that. She also said she was confident her coalition would have the votes on its own to pass measures boosting the euro zone rescue fund…….”

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