Slovak parties in deal to approve EU bailout fund

October 12, 2011 - 9:55 AM
Slovakia Europe Financial Crisis

Robert Fico, chairman of the strongest opposition party, SMER-Social Democracy, looks on during a Parliament session during which the lawmakers will vote on approval for more power to the EU bailout fund, in Bratislava, Slovakia, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011. Slovakia is the last eurozone country to vote on the fund. The 17 nations that use the euro must all approve expanding the powers of the bailout fund, which is designed to shore up Europe's defenses against the debt crisis. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Slovakia's main political parties have reached a deal to approve changes to an EU bailout fund this week, the main opposition leader said Wednesday, just one day after the parliament rejected the proposal, causing the government to fall.

Robert Fico, head of Smer-Social Democracy, said that in exchange for his party's votes, three outgoing government party leaders have agreed to hold early general elections on March 10.

"Slovakia will ratify the EU bailout fund without any problems. I believe it will happen on Friday this week at the latest," said Fico.

Tuesday's vote failed because a junior coalition party, the Freedom and Solidarity party, was against it. In a desperate effort to force that party to vote in favor, Prime Minister Iveta Radicova had tied the vote on the bailout fund to a confidence vote in the government. When the vote failed, her 1-year-old government collapsed.

With the government now defunct — and with the promise of early elections — Fico said his party will vote in favor of the bailout fund, which all 16 other members of the eurozone have already supported.

Eurozone leaders had agreed in July to increase the size and powers of the bailout fund, giving it the ability to lend quickly to governments in case of market trouble in order to contain the stubborn financial crisis.