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S&P said the EFSF’s rating will therefore track those of France and Austria — AA+ with a negative outlook.

A high credit rating is important for the bailout funds — and the European governments paying into them — because it makes it cheaper to raise money from investors.

The euro440 billion ($589 billion) EFSF will be succeeded by the permanent euro500 billion ($671 billion) European Stability Mechanism, or ESM, in July. Some experts have suggested that rather than boosting one or the other, the two funds’ resources could be combined.

Merkel is nevertheless holding out against making a quick decision.

“The government currently sees no need for a debate on increasing the capacity” of the ESM and the existing interim bailout fund, she said Monday.

She underlined Germany’s willingness to speed up its planned payments of capital into the ESM, saying Berlin could pay in the first half — euro11 billion ($14.8 billion) — this year and the rest next year.

German officials have been noncommittal on rolling the remnants of the EFSF into the ESM, pointing to an existing agreement to review the ESM’s size by the end of March.

Merkel insisted that ending the crisis will be a gradual, step-by-step process that will “require years” to complete.

“It was always Germany and the German government that warned again and again the illusion of fast and simple solutions,” she said. “We continue to warn against that.”

Opposition Social Democrat Peer Steinbrueck shot back that “this strategy of buying time has failed because times have got worse.”

Underlining unease in Merkel’s center-right coalition, the weekly Der Spiegel on Sunday quoted Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich as arguing that Greece would have better chances of “regenerating and becoming more competitive” outside the 17-nation eurozone.

Friedrich said Monday he was backing the second bailout and insisted he had only been talking about “what alternatives there are if the possibility of making Greece competitive inside the euro were to fail.”

But a lawmaker with Merkel’s Christian Democrats who has rebelled in previous debt crisis votes was unapologetic about doing so again.

“I can’t go along with this because I think it is economically wrong (and) it is the opposite of what we promised people when the euro was introduced,” Klaus-Peter Willsch told Parliament.

Of the yes votes, 304 came from Merkel’s coalition — enough on Monday’s turnout for a simple majority without opposition help.

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