Germans to vote on bailout after Athens violence

The German parliament is set to vote on a plan to extend financial aid to Greece by another four months.

The extension – approved by creditors last week in exchange for a series of Greek government reforms – needs to be ratified by Eurozone members.

Although some German MPs have expressed doubts about the deal, it is expected to pass easily.

It comes after police and protesters clashed during anti-government demonstrations in Athens on Thursday.

They were the first such disturbances since Greece’s leftist Syriza was sworn in as the main government party exactly a month ago.

Dozens of activists hurled petrol bombs and stones at police and set cars alight after a march involving hundreds of protesters.

The proposed bailout extension has also triggered dissent within Syriza itself.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has defended it, but some on the hard left have accused the government of going back on pre-election pledges.

Syriza swept to power in January by promising to renegotiate the country’s debt and end austerity.

A burning car in central Athens' Exarchia district on 26 February 2015The violence marks the first display of unrest since Alexis Tsipras came to power in January
A man takes a picture of a broken shop window of a jewellery shop, which was damaged by demonstrators in Athens on 26 February Several shops were damaged during the disorder

Critical vote

Eurozone finance ministers on Tuesday approved a set of reform proposals submitted by Greece.

As the dominant economic power in the EU, Germany’s approval is regarded as crucial.

In a test ballot on Thursday, a clear majority of MPs from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right CDU/CSU bloc voted in favour of extending the €240bn (£176bn; $272bn) bailout for Greece – which is currently due to run out on 28 February.

The centre-left Social Democrats, junior partners in Mrs Merkel’s coalition, voted unanimously in favour.

Mrs Merkel’s grand coalition has a commanding majority in the Bundestag.

Angela Merkel addressing Bundestag on 15 January 2015The demonstrations precede a crucial vote on the bailout in Bundestag on Friday

However some MPs have expressed concern over Greece’s ability to deliver on the deal.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, though supporting an extension, said he remains sceptical of the new Greek government’s reform efforts.

“The question is whether one can believe the Greek government’s assurances or not,” he said in an interview with German radio on Thursday.

“There is a lot of doubt in Germany, that has to be understood. Only when we see that they have fulfilled [their promises] will any money be paid.”

Hawkish elements within Mrs Merkel’s CDU (Christian Democratic Union) and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU (Christian Social Union), have portrayed the extension deal as leniency for Greece.