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Radičová links bailout vote with no-confidence vote - government seems likely to fall

SaS DEPUTIES will not support the EFSF in the parliamentary vote later today, even if it is linked with a no-confidence vote in the government, the party leader Richard Sulík announced after a party meeting on October 10.

SaS DEPUTIES will not support the EFSF in the parliamentary vote later today, even if it is linked with a no-confidence vote in the government, the party leader Richard Sulík announced after a party meeting on October 10.

The SaS MPs, who again demonstrated their party’s unity on the issue by standing together in front of the cameras, will not participate in the vote, Sulík announced, as reported by the Sme daily.

“It is not important how many members a party has got, but that they all stick together,” Sulík said, hinting at his party’s relatively small membership.

Prime Minister Iveta Radičová announced at a press conference after this morning’s meeting with the heads of the four parties in the governing coalition that Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, headed by Richard Sulík, has rejected a final compromise offer, leading the prime minister to link the vote on European bailout mechanism, the EFSF, with a no-confidence vote in the government. The extraordinary session of the cabinet, held at 10.30 this morning, approved linking the two votes and only the SaS ministers voted against the proposal.

Sulík stated that he and his party do not agree with the decision to link the bailout mechanism with a no-confidence vote, calling it a “step towards the return of Robert Fico”.

“The government should have continued to rule and carried on implementing reforms,” Sulík said as quoted by Sme. “Apparently an issue that contradicts the programme statement [of the government] is more important. I am sorry about that.”

Four other MPs, from the Ordinary People faction, will also abstain from the parliamentary vote today, their leader Igor Matovič told the media as quoted by the TASR newswire.

“We believed that the coalition parties were responsible enough to reach a compromise, but that did not happen,” Matovič said, as quoted by TASR.

Shortly before noon on October 11 it wasn’t even clear whether the parliament would be capable of holding the vote, as at least 76 MPs must be present for the parliament to be able to vote. If SaS MPs leave the room before the vote, the vote will depend on Smer and the presence of its MPs, the Sme daily wrote.

“It is obviously the task of the opposition to use this situation, but we are not yet sure what we shall do,” Smer’s Robert Madej said, as quoted by Sme. If Smer MPs aren’t present in the chamber and consequently there are not enough MPs to launch the vote, the speaker of the parliament is obliged to interrupt the session and set the date of the next meeting.

If the bailout mechanisms fail in the vote today, it is expected that a vote might be repeated.

If the parliament expresses no-confidence in the cabinet, the parliament’s speaker [Sulík] is obliged to report it immediately to President Ivan Gašparovič. Gašparovič is currently in Indonesia, travelling together with Economy Minister Juraj Miškov of SaS.

Radičová met at the Government’s Office with the coalition parties this morning as the Slovak parliament is scheduled to open its regular October session today with a vote on the bailout mechanisms as the first item on the agenda.

The Sme daily reported that the last offer made to SaS probably included a right to veto the vote on the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the eurozone’s permanent bailout mechanism.

Radičová said that she spoke with Slovakia’s president who will decide about the next steps in the event the government falls today.

Radičová’s decision came after what she called a ‘sleepless night’.

“We have no chance to make it through this crisis alone,” Radičová said on October 10 after meeting with Sulík. “If we think that 16 countries decided [to approve the mechanisms] because they’ve got stupid governments and even more stupid parliaments, then I don’t even know what to compare it to. My decision will be about the fact that we cannot be a Robinson [Crusoe] in the centre of Europe who thinks that he is not tied to the economic results of other countries.”

Media reported on October 10 that Radičová’s options included tying the parliamentary vote on the EFSF to a vote of confidence in the government as well as Radičová's resignation if the EFSF is rejected by parliament.

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