CCTV9英语新闻:Merkel wins mandate from parliament

BERLIN, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- German lower house of parliament gave a green light on boosting the firepower of the eurozone rescue fund, or the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), on Wednesday.

The parliamentary approval gave Chancellor Angela Merkel a strong backing and mandate to negotiate ahead of a crucial European Union (EU) summit in Brussels later Wednesday.

The result, with 503 votes of support from 620 seats, was in line with previous expectation, as the two main opposition parties, the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens, have promised Tuesday to back the new version of the rescue plan, drafted by EU leaders after a closely watched summit on Sunday.

Merkel's conservative party decided Monday to push for a full vote on the new changes of the eurozone rescue package, although it would be enough for the parliament's budget committee to endorse them.

The decision, which eventually granted Merkel sufficient authority for following talks with other EU partners, came against a backdrop that German highest court ruled last month that the parliament have a bigger say and deeper involvement in the eurozone bailout issues.

Before the voting, Merkel urges EU countries to tackle the very root of the debt crisis, saying that the eurozone need a strong "firewall" to contain the crisis from further spreading.

She also urges stricter EU rules and supervision for those who permanently and repeatedly breach the Stability and Growth Pact, an EU treaty that demands its member states' deficits is no more than 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The chancellor also stressed that the private sector should help significantly to solve the debt trouble of Greece.

According to text draft obtained by media after Sunday's summit, banks would have to accept a "voluntary" write-down of 50-60 percent on their Greek bond holdings. In July summit, the "haircut" by private sector was only 21 percent.

Following the vote, Merkel is due to fly to Brussels for another marathon negotiation. All eyes are now on whether the EU leaders can finally hammer out a comprehensive and convincing reaction plan to the escalating debt crisis on Wednesday's summit, the second one in four days.

The new resolution, as it was passed by German parliament, will reportedly introduce two methods of leveraging the EFSF -- one method is to use the EFSF to partly guarantee the bonds of weak eurozone states and the other is to establish a special purpose investment vehicle (SPIV), supported by other players like the International Monetary Fund.

The German government promised that all these methods under discussion would not give more burdens to German taxpayers, most of who are also voters and have been unsatisfied with Merkel's handling of crisis.

Germany currently guarantees loans up to 211 billion euros, or nearly half of the total eurozone rescue fund, making itself the largest paymaster among eurozone states.