“Elections will be held March 10. We will pass the bailout plan.” Thus Pravda sums up the political manoeuvring going on in Bratislava. After the rejection by Parliament on October 11 of the expansion of the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) and the fall of the government of Iveta Radičová, Robert Fico, the opposition leader, whose party SMER (social-democrat populist) abstained from the vote, “has pushed the coalition into early elections in exchange for his support for the bailout,” writes the newspaper, noting that the leaders of three of the coalition parties worked out the agreement with SMER at “incredible speed” and “have already got the campaign underway.”
Slovakia is the only one of the 17 member countries of the eurozone not to have approved the extension of EFSF. Parliament is to hold a second vote by the end of the week. Speedy ratification is particularly desired by the leaders of the eurozone, who want to be able to present at the European Council of 23 October a plan to recapitalise European banks and offer financial assistance to at-risk countries such as Italy and Spain.