Germans overwhelmingly oppose Greek bailout: poll
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germans overwhelmingly oppose further aid for Greece, according to opinion poll released on Sunday, one day ahead of a vote in parliament on a new Greek bailout package where Chancellor Angela Merkel may be forced to rely on opposition support.
The poll by the Emnid Institute in Bild am Sonntag newspaper found 62 percent oppose a new 130 billion ($175 billion) rescue package while 33 percent are in favor. A similar Emnid poll in September found 53 percent opposed and 43 percent in favor.
Merkel's centre-right coalition faces a testing vote in parliament on Monday when at least a dozen deputies are expected vote against the measure. It should still pass with ease because opposition parties will vote for it.
But the prospect of the ruling bloc failing to win a majority on its own would be a humiliating setback for Merkel, with some analysts and opposition leaders warning it could endanger her coalition.
Further signs of tension in the coalition emerged on Saturday when Merkel's Interior Minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, became the first member of her government to openly call for Greece to leave the euro zone.
Merkel's government has 330 seats in the 620-seat parliament so Merkel can afford no more than 19 rebels if she is to deliver the 311-seat majority without relying on the opposition.
In a September 27 vote, there were 15 rebels in the coalition and Merkel got 315 votes from her coalition deputies.
'RESCUE ONLY BUYS TIME'
Wolfgang Bosbach, a respected member of parliament in Merkel's Christian Democrats, told Reuters he planned to vote against the Greek rescue package on Monday because it will not help resolve Greece's lack of economic competitiveness.
"My fear is we're only buying time with this rescue package and yet will be taking on more risk," said Bosbach, who also voted against the previous measure.
"My fear is that the basic problems won't be resolved. On top of that, the drastic savings efforts that are necessary for Greece will further choke off the economy and lead to even higher unemployment."
The Emnid poll in Bild am Sonntag also found that two-thirds of Germans believe a Greek state insolvency is unavoidable and only 31 percent believe it can be averted.
Germans, who are making the largest financial contribution to the euro zone bailout to Athens, are growing increasingly impatient with what Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble recently described as a "bottomless pit" in Greece.
At the same time, there is a growing awareness in Germany, Europe's leading economy, that its own prosperity is at risk as the debt crisis sucks in other countries and stifles demand within the currency bloc for German exports.
German criticism of Greece has reopened wounds in Greece dating back to World War Two. Protesters in Athens burned a German flag earlier this month while Greek newspapers have portrayed Merkel and Schaeuble in Nazi uniform.
Merkel is opposed to Greece leaving the euro zone but her Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), face a difficult state vote in 2013 and have been raising the volume on calls for Greece to quit.
Yet until Friedrich's comments on Saturday none of the three CSU ministers in her 15-member cabinet had dared express that view in public. Friedrich said Greece's chances of restoring its fiscal health would be greater outside the euro.
"Greece's chances to regenerate itself and become more competitive are certainly greater outside the currency union than they are if it stays in the euro zone," Friedrich told Der Spiegel magazine. "I'm not saying that Greece should be thrown out but rather to create incentives that it can't say 'no' to."
(Reporting By Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)