Several eurozone parliaments to vote on new Greek debt deal

GMT 20:24 2015 Friday ,10 July

Arab Today, arab today Several eurozone parliaments to vote on new Greek debt deal

A man holds a Greek national flag as he celebrates
Berlin - AFP

If Greece and its European partners reach a deal on a third aid programme on Sunday, it will still have to be approved by at least eight different national parliaments.

And the German Bundestag will even get to vote on it twice.  

If in most countries, despite certain grumblings, approval of the deal is not really in any doubt, the matter is more complicated in countries such as Slovakia and Latvia. And opposition would grow if the deal includes a write-down of Greece's debt.

In the Netherlands, lawmakers will decide themselves whether to hold a vote or not.

The Irish government doesn't have to ask for parliamentary approval, but it could chose to seek lawmakers' backing. Approval would near-certain given its majority in the assembly.

The parliaments of Belgium, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Lithuania, Italy, Spain and Portugal will not hold a vote.

Neither will the parliaments in Malta or Slovenia, as long as the total financial aid to Greece does not increase. That is unlikely to be the case, if the money comes from the European Stability Mechanism, which euro members paid into in 2012.

Slovenian lawmakers will, however, vote if there is some write-off of Greece's debt. Slovenia has the largest exposure to Greek debt in the euro area as a proportion of its gross domestic product (GDP), so parliament may be difficult to convince.

The German lower house will hold two votes on the aid package: the first to mandate the government to enter into negotiations on the concrete modalities and precise volumes of aid; the second to approve the final deal once it has been worked out in detail.

Chancellor Angela Merkel commands a comfortable majority of 504 out of 631 seats with her "grand coalition" of Conservatives and Social Democrats.  

The two opposition parties, the environmentalist Greens and far-left Die Linke, are also likely to back the agreement. So, arithmetically, the outcome of the vote is a done deal.

Politically, however, things are more complicated for Merkel. Within her Christian Union CDU/CSU parties, there is a growing number of people who are unhappy with the Greek government's attitude.

Around 30 of them voted "No" last February and around 100 more said they would go no further. If the number of no-voters grows to anywhere near half of those in the CDU/CSU parliamentary faction, it will deal a heavy blow to the chancellor. But generally speaking, her conservatives may rant and fume a lot beforehand, but end up toeing the line.


A "Parliamentary Grand Committee", made up of 25 of parliament's 200 lawmakers, will mandate the government to negotiate -- on behalf of the entire Finnish parliament -- the terms of the definitive aid agreement.

The Grand Committee -- which mirrors the political make-up of parliament -- will convene Saturday to make a decision. It will also discuss the final draft, but vote only if there is opposition to it.

The government only needs a simple majority to pass it. But even if the eurosceptics won a substantial number of seats in the parliamentary elections in spring, it is unlikely that lawmakers will block a bailout programme as long as it conforms to the rules of the European Stability Mechanism or ESM.

The Hellenic Parliament or Vouli ton Ellinon is likely to approve the deal. Even if the concessions Alexis Tspiras is expected to agree to are likely to lead to much gritting of teeth in his far-left Syriza party, he will likely be able to count on at least part of the opposition to get parliament's green light.


Prime Minister Manuel Valls has thrown his weight behind a vote by the National Assembly in the case of a deal. And the vote is likely to be held on Wednesday, July 15. With detractors more likely to abstain than vote 'No,' the deal is set to sail through without any problem.


A parliamentary vote is necessary and could be held very quickly in a special session next week once the terms of the deal have been approved by the council of ministers. Parliamentary approval is not really in any doubt, even less so, as the opposition environmentalist Green party are set to vote yes.


The Estonian parliament will vote and will interrupt their summer vacation to do so. But a positive outcome is not in doubt, as the ruling coalition commands a solid majority.

Latvia didn't vote on the two previous aid packages because it wasn't a member of the eurozone at the time, but will vote this time.

"It will be very difficult for me to convince parliament," Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma admitted in a radio interview on Friday.


The matter would be decided by the Slovakian parliament's committee for European affairs, said the committee's chief Lubos Blaho. But Slovakia, in particular its Prime Minister Robert Fico, is very reluctant to come Greece's aid again.


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