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Dissension over Greek bailout weakens Merkel (+video)

Members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition balked at the second Greek bailout, even though it passed. The vote is seen as a defeat for her austerity program.

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Chancellor Angela Merkel – the driving force behind Europe's often-controversial response to its economic woes – is facing increasing domestic criticism about her eurocrisis management.

The German parliament on Monday solidly backed the second bailout package for Greece. But for the first time since she took office in 2005, Mrs. Merkel did not get the so-called chancellor’s majority, the absolute majority from within her own coalition of three center-right parties. The vote is seen as a defeat for Merkel and her policies, which are focused on austerity and budgetary discipline as measures to solve the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone.

While no one is yet questioning her de facto eurozone leadership, an extended crisis could become a decisive factor in Merkel's political future. 

“This second bailout won’t do,” says Manfred Kolbe, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, one of 20 members of Merkel's camp who refused to back her. “There is already a third one on the horizon. We are throwing good money after bad. Unless Greece becomes an economy that can compete with other eurozone members, we are wasting German taxpayers’ money.”

The chancellor conceded there was no guarantee this bailout would actually work, but warned that a Greek default could have unpredictable consequences for the financial security of Germany, the eurozone, and even the global economy. “I have to weigh risks,” Merkel said during the debate, “but I must not embark on adventures.”

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