Politicians in Slovakia have reached a deal to support the bill ratifying the EU bailout chances. However, in exchange, they have asked for early elections. The same bill had been denied on Tuesday after both a part of the country’s coalition and main opposition said no. Another vote is expected by the end of the week.
Prime Minister Iveta Radicova made a deal with the Social Democrats to hold elections earlier so that the bill would go through. Slovakia is the last of the 17 members of the eurozone to vote on the bill, which proposes to extend the lending capacity of the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) to 440 billion euros, or £383 billion pounds.
In addition, the fund would be able to buy government debt and offer credit lines both to member states and to banks. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso issued a joint statement to try and get Slovakia to ratify the bill quickly, saying, “We call upon all parties in the Slovak parliament to rise above the positioning of short-term politics and seize the next occasion to ensure a swift adoption of the new agreement.”
The Freedom and Solidarity party, a member of the coalition for Slovakia refused to support the bill on Tuesday, asking why Slovakia should cover other countries’ debts. Slovakia is the second poorest country in the eurozone, and citizens do not feel they should pay the debts of other countries.
However, four political parties have reached an agreement based on new elections to be held on March 10, to be discussed in today’s session in parliament. The current government is unpopular, and the head of the Social Democrats, Robert Fico, explained why he declined the original vote and supported the second one, saying that they were opposing the “rightist government” but supporting the rescue.
Mr. Fico is a former prime minister for the country, and is set to do well in the elections because the current government’s austerity package is highly unpopular among the struggling taxpayers. Mr. Fico called the bill “the most important document of this period.”