Archive for October, 2011
After eight hours of passionate debate, the Slovak parliament voted down the boost of eurozone’s bail-out fund and failed to express confidence to the government of Iveta Radicova.
It was a battle of nerves with several outcomes of both temporary and permanent character.
Temporarily, the EU’s rescue plan has been blocked by a country of five million. As the last member state to vote on the issue, Slovakia broke off the marathon of positive rulings by 16 parliaments in the currency union. A few meters from destination, the Slovak runner has stopped and announced he would not run further. But please, don’t panic. Especially you, Sir of the financial markets. The Slovak runner will be replaced. That’s the rule of the game in the European Union. By the end of this week, the Slovak parliament is expected to vote again. Perhaps a bit later – now that the EU summit has been postponed. The main opposition social-democrat SMER party fulfilled its promise and abstained from the first vote as PM Radicova could not guarantee the approval by her coalition partners and was forced to take up the confidence motion. But, of course as true social democrats they are strictly pro-European; they will wait for their political conditions to be met before they cast their ballot again and help to approve the EU’s bail-out fund.
For PM Radicova it’s over, however. “At summits in Brussels, I have seen premiers come and go many times and I will go too,” she told MPs in what seemed like her good-bye speech, minutes before the vote. She appealed to them to keep in mind the international image of Slovakia in the challenging times Europe is facing. She maintained that it would not be correct for her to push the country into isolation. So she took the highest risk and was defeated. Whether it will be her permanent or temporary departure from the top Slovak politics is hard to say. But neither Europe nor Sir in the financial markets care, do they?
Pessimists say the image of Slovakia will suffer, permanently. We have set a very negative example. And if our friends in the ECB and European Commission had had a magic ball and seen this coming they would not have accepted us in the elite currency club. We expect solidarity from others but fail to express it ourselves. I must admit that I felt ashamed when listening to some deputies in Bratislava. For many of them, it really was only about us poor Slovaks not willing to pay for higher pensions of richer nations. While experts (even those really eurosceptic in ordinary times) are convincing us that the bolstered bail-out fund is necessary for the whole eurozone and its return to the “ordinary times”.
But then, we did have negative referendums for previous “key European reforms”, right? And we did see countries shutting off their labour markets from workers from new member states, didn’t we? Every now and then, solidarity with plans made in Brussels (or Berlin and Paris) is tested and not always nations or their parliaments pass that test as expected.
Although most of the times they do. In the first or second attempt.