France’s National Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of France’s contribution to an €80bn eurozone rescue package for Greece late on Monday night .
The Greek bail-out was included in an amendment to a supplementary budget bill for 2010 which will now pass to the Senate, where it is expected to be passed into law on Thursday.
Deputies in the lower house voted in a show of hands and without changing the text in an emergency late-night sitting.
The vote underlined the widespread consensus in France in favour of a eurozone bail-out. Only one Eurosceptic deputy voted against the rescue on principle, while some 20 Communist and some far-left deputies voted against the proposal on the grounds that the interest that Athens will be charged for loans – about 5 per cent – was too high.
In a rare bipartisan move, opposition socialists joined the governing UMP party to back the rescue plan, criticised by many political leaders in France only for coming too late.
“I am not supporting the government, I am supporting Greece, I am supporting the euro,” said François Hollande, a former socialist party leader. “This is not a left-right debate, it is a debate about Europe, a debate of principle.”
France has agreed to provide up to €16.8bn in bilateral loans to Athens as part of the joint three-year bail-out by the eurozone and International Monetary Fund. Monday night’s vote covered only €3.9bn of that, corresponding to the share that will be paid during the rest of 2010.
Christine Lagarde, finance minister, told the National Assembly she would be “extremely vigilant” about ensuring that Athens stuck to its austerity plan.
She also tried to calm fears of debt market contagion spreading from Greece to other weaker members of the eurozone.
“We must avoid comparing that which is not comparable,” Ms Lagarde said.
“There is a distinctive aspect that is specific to Greece: the absence of reliable statistical data, figures that were clearly unfounded, and serious deficit of confidence that has hit that country since last November.”
Portugal, Spain and Ireland “are not seeing the same difficulties, the same uncertainty over the reliability of their figures and their statistics”, she added.
Some socialist deputies said they were backing the rescue package but not the austerity plan they said had been imposed on the Greek people.
Ms Lagarde was asked about the interest charged on eurozone loans to Greece, with one deputy suggesting the bloc was going to make a “profit on the back of the misery of a people”.
Before the debate, Marie-George Buffet, the Communist leader, criticised the high interest rate, saying the rescue plan for Athens amounted to “usury”.
Get alerts on Global Economy when a new story is published