Slovakia: Early elections as a price for the ratification of the EFSF

On 11 October, the Slovakian parliament refused to ratify the reform of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), the implementation of which requires consent from all eurozone member states. The vote on the reinforcement of this key European anti-crisis instrument, which Prime Minister Iveta Radičová combined with a vote of confidence for her cabinet, thus caused the fall of the Slovakian government. The EFSF reform was rejected and the government collapsed due to it being boycotted by the coalition member, Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), which opposes the EFSF reform, and the left-wing opposition party, Smer-SD. The latter definitely supports the EFSF reform, but it wanted to break up the coalition and bring about the fall of the government. The other three coalition parties voted in favour of the EFSF reform: SDKÚ-DS, KDH and Most-Híd. They agreed with Smer-SD on 12 October that the parliament would grant consent to the reinforcement of the EFSF immediately after the adoption of the constitutional law which envisages the shortening of the parliament’s term to enable early elections to be held in March 2012. This can be expected within days.
  • The fall of Iveta Radičova’s cabinet is a consequence of a several-month-long dispute over the anti-crisis mechanisms in the eurozone. It resulted in the disintegration of the centre-right camp, which became focused on infighting, and the strengthening of Smer-SD, which had been building its image as a responsible, pro-European Social Democrat party. The leader of Smer-SD, the former prime minister, Robert Fico, wanted early elections to be ordered after which his party, a likely winner, would be able to form a coalition with one of the centre-right groupings or the Hungarian minority party.
  • The negotiations between the parties on the date of the next vote on the reform of the EFSF have been combined with talks about the ways to overcome the political crisis. Slovak leaders, who are under strong pressure from European leaders, will try to cause the ratification of the changes in the EFSF soon. The Slovak parliament is likely to finally ratify the changes in the EFSF owing to support from Smer-SD before the European Council’s summit on 23 October.
  • The vote in the Slovak parliament met with great interest in global media and financial markets. Ministers from across the EU have appealed to the Slovak government to vote ‘responsibly’. Slovakia, which rejected the loan to Greece last year, has tarnished its reputation as a reliable partner in the EU once again. The problems with Slovakia accepting the anti-crisis measures may strengthen the trend of withdrawing from the unanimity principle in the creation of key European economic mechanisms.