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Slovakia approves expanded EFSF

Slovakia's parliament, in a vote on Thursday, October 13, approved the enlargement of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) bailout scheme for the eurozone. It was the last of the eurozone's 17 countries to do so. The result of the parliamentary vote was expected after an agreement was reached between three of the governing coalition parties – the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and Most-Híd – and the largest opposition party, Smer, to back the EFSF. A simple majority (76 votes) was necessary for the mechanism to be approved; 114 lawmakers ultimately voted in favour.

Slovakia's parliament, in a vote on Thursday, October 13, approved the enlargement of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) bailout scheme for the eurozone. It was the last of the eurozone's 17 countries to do so. The result of the parliamentary vote was expected after an agreement was reached between three of the governing coalition parties – the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and Most-Híd – and the largest opposition party, Smer, to back the EFSF. A simple majority (76 votes) was necessary for the mechanism to be approved; 114 lawmakers ultimately voted in favour.

Parliament first voted on the issue on Tuesday, October 11. That vote was also made a vote of confidence in the government (a device used to try to force the dissenting coalition party Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) to back it as well). But as neither SaS nor Smer voted in favour on that occasion, the government did not receive a vote of confidence, meaning that it would have to resign, and the EFSF was not approved.

On Wednesday, October 12, the three pro-EFSF coalition parties made an agreement on an early election with Smer, which in exchange pledged to back the EFSF in a second vote. As a result of the October 13 vote Slovakia's contribution to the fund will increase from the current €4.4 billion to €7.7 billion, while the EFSF's overall capacity will be increased from €440 billion to €779 billion.

The SDKÚ, KDH and Most-Híd were all satisfied with the approval of the enlargement of the EFSF eurozone rescue mechanism, Premier Iveta Radičová (SDKÚ) told the TASR newswire later in the day. "We belong to Europe, we belong to the eurozone, and today we confirmed this commitment," Radičová said. She added that Slovakia would no longer be labelled by foreign partners a "black sheep, black hole, and an irresponsible and untrustworthy country".

"I'm glad that the prime minister will go to the next European Council session with a clear mandate," said SDKÚ leader and Foreign Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda. "We've sent a positive signal, we haven't stymied 16 countries; we know what solidarity is," said Most-Híd leader Béla Bugár. "We've shown that we belong to Europe," he said, adding that the price paid – the fall of the government – was, however, high. KDH leader Ján Figeľ noted that more MPs (114) than would have been required for a constitutional majority (90) supported what he called "the European solution".

After the EFSF was approved, MPs also passed an amendment necessary to make changes to the bailout mechanism; the amendment on specific state guarantees enables the increase in the EFSF in the way agreed upon by European leaders, the SITA newswire wrote. The amendment was debated in a fast-tracked proceeding and will become effective after it is published in the Slovak Code of Laws.

Sources: TASR, SITA

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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