German lawmakers have given their go ahead for the euro zone to negotiate a third bailout with Greece. But as Ivor Bennett reports, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had to overcome stiff opposition, including from within her coalition.
No candles, no cakes - it didn't look like the happiest of birthdays for the German Chancellor. And if there were to be any presents from parliament, Angela Merkel knew she'd have to fight for them. Negotiations for Greece's third bailout would only be able to start with the backing of the Bundestag. For Merkel, there is no other choice. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR, ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING: "The alternative to this agreement would not be an orderly time out from the euro zone but predictable chaos." If this was a personal rebuke, its target was not impressed. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has openly questioned whether a deal will work. Favouring a temporary Greek exit instead. On Thursday, it seemed like he might have support after 48 coalition lawmakers opposed the talks in a test ballot. But it's not just Merkel who's criticised the stance. Gregor Gysi is leader of the opposition Left Party. (SOUNDBITE) (German) OPPOSITION LEFT PARTY (DIE LINKE) FLOOR LEADER, GREGOR GYSI, SAYING: "The situation is pretty messy because what Wolfgang Schaeuble did was anti-social, anti-democratic and anti-European." In the end, the rebels were outvoted - 439 to 119. With even Schaeuble it seems, falling into line and backing the deal. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER, WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE, SAYING: "It's a last attempt to fulfill this extraordinarily difficult task." There are deep divisions on the streets of Berlin. A tough deal agreed last weekend demands Greece cut pensions and raise VAT - measures that these German protesters say go too far. The deal also demands Athens set aside 50 billion euros of assets to sell off. But National Australia Bank's Nick Parsons says the numbers don't add up. SOUNDBITE (English) NICK PARSONS, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK, SAYING: "Quite simply, in these current market conditions, there aren't 50 billion of assets. And even if there were, we've got grave reservations and grave doubts as to whether they actually could be ringfenced as the proposals so suggest. So I think it's a pretty fair bet that this deal will fall apart." For now though, it's all systems go. Germany and Austria joining France and Finland among the parliaments backing the deal, and giving the go-ahead for talks to start once again.