Saturday

20th Aug 2022

Slovak government hangs by a thread ahead of crucial EU vote

  • Heavy clouds of uncertainty hang over EU vote in Slovakia (Photo: stefanweihs)

Hours before the Slovak parliament votes on greater powers of the eurozone's bail-out fund, the country's Prime Minister Iveta Radicova has decided to put her job on the line over the decision.

Latest coalition talks ended without an agreement on Monday (October 10), with Radicova saying she will announce details of her political intentions to the ruling parties this morning at 9am Bratislava time.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

According to media reports, the Prime Minister has three options up her sleeve - each signalling the government is hanging by a thread. She could resign before the vote is held on Tuesday afternoon; she could resign should the parliament fail to approve boosting the eurozone's fund (the EFSF); and lastly, she could tie the EFSF vote to a confidence vote.

"I will decide responsibly by morning," said the Slovak leader.

It will be a tough call for the liberal party Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), which remains steadfastly opposed to raising the Slovak contribution to the temporary bail-out fund and has left itself no room for a face-saving manoeuvre.

The SaS's two conditions - veto power over any disbursement of the EFSF money and Bratislava staying out of the future European stability mechanism (ESM) - have been rejected by three remaining coalition partners.

The second condition seems particularly paradoxical as the ESM allows for an orderly default of insolvent countries. That is an approach advocated by the troublesome party.

"We cannot become Robinson [Crusoe] in the centre of Europe," Iveta Radicova said, criticizing the junior ruling party's attitude. "If we think that 16 countries took a certain decision because they have dumb governments and even dumber parliaments, if we think that we can manage the crisis on our own, I don't know how to describe it."

A bigger role for both, the government and the parliament's budget and finance committee in approving the EFSF loans is the farthest the Prime Minister was willing to go in efforts to reach a political compromise with the liberals. However, no red card would be given to an individual political party, Reuters news agency reported.

The enhanced fund needs to be approved by all 17 eurozone states before it can start offering pre-emptive credit lines to governments, buying their debt and recapitalizing banks - something high on the eurozone's agenda after Germany and France committed to do "whatever is necessary for the recapitalization of our banks."

The euro group president Jean-Claude Juncker last week ruled out granting Slovakia a derogation or opt-out in exchange for the country's positive vote.

So, if 21 liberal MPs dig in their heels despite the Prime Minister's threat to quit, the government will have to turn to the former socialist Prime Minister Robert Fico for votes. He is willing to help but only at the price of early elections or a government reshuffle.

Meanwhile, the Slovak public has begun to lean towards approving greater firepower for the eurozone rescue fund. According to a fresh opinion poll by the Polis agency, 44.8 percent of people want the plan to go through, while 32.9 percent oppose it.

The schedule

9am - the Prime Minister meets leaders of four ruling parties to inform them of her next political move

10am - the leadership of the SaS party holds an internal debate

13pm - the parliamentary session on EFSF expansion begins

Merkel, Sarkozy will do ‘whatever necessary’ to bail-out banks

Financial markets hoping for the outline of some grand strategy for dealing with the ever-worsening eurozone crisis are likely to be disappointed by the vague announcement offered up by the French president and German chancellor after emergency talks in Berlin on Sunday.

Slovak parties reach deal on EU bail-out fund

The Slovak parliament is set to approve legislation backing a strengthening of the eurozone’s €440 billion rescue fund after the centre-left opposition said it would back a fresh version of the bill in return for early election

Conditions met for German nuclear extension, officials say

Conditions have been met for the German government to allow a temporary lifetime extension of three remaining nuclear reactors, according to the Wall Street Journal, as the country is facing a likely shortage of gas this winter.

News in Brief

  1. China joins Russian military exercises in Vostok
  2. Ukraine nuclear plant damage would be 'suicide', says UN chief
  3. Denmark to invest €5.5bn in new warships
  4. German economy stagnates, finance ministry says
  5. Syria received stolen grain, says Ukraine envoy
  6. Truss still leads in next UK PM polling
  7. UN chief meets Zelensky and Erdogan over grain exports
  8. Fighting stalls ahead of UN visit, Ukraine says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Latest News

  1. European inflation hits 25-year high, driven by energy spike
  2. No breakthrough in EU-hosted Kosovo/Serbia talks
  3. Letter to the Editor: Rosatom responds on Zaporizhzhia
  4. Could the central Asian 'stan' states turn away from Moscow?
  5. Serbia expects difficult talks with Kosovo at EU meeting
  6. How scary is threat to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?
  7. Slovakia's government stares into the abyss
  8. Finland restricts Russian tourist visas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us