There’s been a lot of confusion today about Slovakia’s role in passing a plan to expand the European Financial Stability Facility. The latest headlines are all about how there’s still no agreement, so people are a bit nervous.
Here’s what’s really going to happen.
Right now, the disagreement over the expansion plan lies within the parties of the governing coalition. Prime Minister Iveta Radicova, her SDKU-DS party, and two of the other three parties in her coalition are in favour of the EFSF plan. Together the three parties control 57 seats.
However, the Freedom and Solidarity Party (SaS) (22 seats) disagrees with the EFSF expansion in principle, and has conceded that it will only pass the plan if provisions for a permanent replacement to the EFSF — the European Stability Mechanism — are omitted. This is unacceptable to both Europe and the rest of the governing coalition.
On the other hand, Robert Fico — the head of the popular opposition party Smer (62 seats) — said that although his party will not approve the plan on a first vote, it does agree with the EFSF expansion in principle.
Fico has told the press that his party will affirm the plan on a second vote, but that such a vote will entail the dissolution of the governing coalition.
Without full accord from the coalition, coalition votes in favour of the plan will not outnumber Smer’s nays. A second vote that would collapse the government would see an overwhelmingly positive result for the plan.
With PM Radicova now threatening to resign, the success of the EFSF plan now appears assured. Pressure from Europe is too great not to pass the plan for the sake of the government, particularly when consensus within the parliament favours approval.
If SaS continues to oppose the plan it will likely collapse the government and see passage of the EFSF measures regardless. Such a move would be politically risky move, as the opposition Smer party is powerful and could easily regain government control.
Even if it does, however, this really shouldn’t be a roadblock to the EFSF.