Berlin: The future of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's two-year-old centre-right coalition hinged on the outcome of a crucial vote tomorrow in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, on expanding the euro zone's financial safety net to bail out debt-ridden member nations in danger of an insolvency.
   
The German parliamentarians will have to decide whether to endorse a decision by the heads of state and government on July 21 to increase the size of the financial rescue fund
from the present level of 440 billion euros to 780 billion euros in credits and credit guarantees and to give it new powers to avert future debt crisis in the 17-nation euro area.
   
At stake in the Bundestag vote is the credibility of Merkel's deeply divided coalition after several MPs of the ruling parties have threatened to vote against the temporary European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) in protest against "perpetuating a culture of transferring funds" from the rich to the poor euro zone member-nations.
   
The EFSF will be replaced by a permanent European Stability Mechanism (ESM) in mid-2013.
   
Even though the Bundestag is almost certain to ratify the proposed expansion of the EFSF because the two main opposition parties have pledged to vote for it, Merkel will face a very
embarrassing defeat if she fails to secure a parliamentary majority from her coalition partners and she will be forced to step down and to call a re-election.
   
In a "test" vote among the parliamentary group of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) on Tuesday evening, eleven MPs voted against the bailout fund while two abstained.
   
The coalition cannot afford to lose no more than 19 votes to ensure its majority of 311 votes in the 620-member Bundestag.
   
Besides the rebellion within the CDU, Merkel is also worried about support from her junior coalition partner Free Democratic Party, which has been pressing for an "orderly insolvency" of Greece, arguing that German tax payers can longer carry the burden of supporting their euro zone partner.
   
Greece became the first euro zone nation to be bailed out when it received a rescue package of 110 billion euros in May, last year.
   
The euro zone leaders endorsed a second bailout package of 109 billion euros for Greece at their July 21 summit as the assistance made available so far from the first package failed to stabilise the country’s debt crisis.
   
Several FDP MPs have already announced their intention to vote against the EFSF and many more threatened to join those following reports from the weekend meeting of the IMF and the World Bank in Washington that the European Union and the IMF were working on plans to further boost the EFSF to more than 2 trillion euros.

(Agencies)