The government of Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radičová fell late on Tuesday (11 October) after a junior coalition partner, the Freedom and Solidarity party (Sloboda a Solidarita; SaS), refused to back the EFSF's ratification in Parliament (see background).
Slovakia is the only country of the 17 eurozone countries which hasn't yet ratified the eurozone bailout mechanism, which EU leaders decided to expand at their 21 July summit.
As Radičová had promised, she turned the EFSF vote into a confidence motion, and lost. Only 55 of 124 lawmakers present voted in favour. Nine were against and 60 abstained, including members of the left-of-centre opposition Smer-SD. The ruling coalition needed at least 76 votes to approve the reform in the 150-seat Slovak parliament.
The main opposition party SMER-SD of former Prime Minister Robert Fico said it supported the EFSF, but wanted early elections. Fico even said that for his party, the ratification of the EFSF was "a priority".
A repeat of the vote is expected this week, on the basis of a political deal.
According to Reuters, Radičová held back tears during a news conference after the vote. She called on the three like-minded parties in her coalition to approach SMER for a way to pass the deal in a new vote.
Political analyst Grigorij Meseznikov said that, while talks on forming a new cabinet may take weeks, approval of the EFSF plan could come faster.
"I expect that quite quickly after the fall of this cabinet the rescue fund will be approved, within four days, because we are in a newly defined situation and Fico will position himself as the saviour of the euro zone and Slovakia," he said.
Under the constitution, Radičová will now have to resign but will stay in office until a new administration is in place. President Ivan Gašparovič must find a new prime minister. Early elections are possible, but not obligatory.
The political intrigue in Slovakia sharply contrasts with the recent vote in the Bundestag, where the German social democrats massively backed the EFSF.