Austrian parliament approves eurozone rescue fund

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VIENNA (AP) — Austria's parliament has approved the eurozone's permanent rescue fund, clearing the way for the country's broader participation in the 17-nation zone's financial crisis management.

The governing left-center coalition was supported by the opposition Green party to surpass the two-thirds of votes needed for approval Wednesday. Opposed were the rightist Freedom Party and the populist BZO, which argue that participation undermines Austrian sovereignty.

The euro500 billion ($630 billion) European Stability Mechanism fund is meant to be in place by this month, but a legal appeal launched in Germany last week by its opponents could delay or derail it because it cannot take effect without approval by Europe's biggest economy.

During pre-voting debate Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter compared the ESM to a "highly modern fire department that answers the call during financial crises."

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