The Slovak government has failed to find backing among all four parties in the ruling coalition to support the EFSF, the media in the country reported yesterday (13 September).
The Freedom and Solidarity party (Sloboda a Solidarita; SaS), a liberal party and a junior coalition partner, is strongly opposed to both EU bailout mechanisms – the EFSF and its successor, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
SaS opposes the Greek bailout and has repeatedly called on Athens to default on its debt as the only reasonable solution to the eurozone crisis.
As a result, without the backing of SaS, the ruling coalition does not have the 76 votes needed to approve EFSF reform in the 150-seat Slovak parliament.
The main opposition party SMER-SD of former Prime Minister Robert Fico is not opposed to the EU bailout mechanisms, but says the coalition should guarantee the minimum number of votes needed to pass them in parliament.
The other coalition members – the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and the Hungarian minority Most-Híd party – are all in favour of ratifying the EU's bailout instruments.
At the end of August the coalition parties decided that Slovakia would be the last country to vote on the EFSF. The senior coalition members – the SDKU-DS, the KDH and Most-Híd parties – were hoping to use this delay to persuade SaS to support the EU's bailout fund.
But SaS leader Richard Sulík refused to cave in and maintained his opposition. "It [the EFSF] is dousing the flames with a ventilator," said Sulík in an interview with EurActiv Slovakia.
"It does not solve the problems we have. When the problem is that countries are heavily indebted, you can not solve it with other debts. The EFSF is only about additional debts," he claimed.
Tensions over the EFSF have recently escalated. Last week, Sulík and the leader of main coalition party SDKU-DS, Mikuláš Dzurinda, had a fierce argument over the EU bailout mechanism.
'Road to Socialism'
Without prior warning for its coalition partners, SaS launched a campaign against the EFSF by publishing a document called 'EFSF –The Road to Socialism', in which its leaders argue against the mechanism.
Many coalition partners were disappointed by this move. The leader of KDH, Ján Figel', a former EU commissioner, said that the SaS campaign could trigger the government's fall.
Discussions continued on Monday (12 September) but after 12 hours of intensive talks, the coalition was unable to reach agreement. The daily newspaper SME wrote that after the meeting, Prime Minister Iveta Radičová said that the EFSF decision could take place in parallel with the vote of confidence.
International credibility at stake
Referring to the fact that the Slovak government had accepted the EFSF at the 21 July EU summit, she said: "There are three pillars of stability of the Slovak republic – reforms, state budget and international credibility."
Béla Bugár, the leader of Most-Híd, also argued that it was the government's responsibility to "secure the stable position of the Slovak Republic in the EU".
"The question of the EFSF is linked with that," he insisted.