Eurozone crisis: Slovakia backs larger rescue fund

Slovak lawmakers debate ahead of Thursday's vote in Bratislava. Photo: 13 October 2011
Image caption Slovak lawmakers needed just 30 minutes to endorse the eurozone fund on Thursday

Slovakia's parliament has ratified a plan to bolster a eurozone rescue fund, just two days after MPs rejected it.

The vote came after the government and opposition agreed to hold snap elections next year.

The decision means all 17 eurozone states have now approved the plan to tackle the eurozone debt crisis.

The plan envisages expanding the effective lending capacity of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to 440bn euros ($600bn; £383bn).

The fund would also be empowered to buy eurozone government debt and offer credit lines to member states and to banks.

First political victim

Slovak lawmakers approved the eurozone rescue plan after a separate vote to hold snap elections on 10 March next year - a key demand of the opposition.

The first attempt on Tuesday failed because one of the four coalition allies in Prime Minister Iveta Radicova's centre-right government refused to back the move.

The Freedom and Solidarity party asked why Slovakia's taxpayers should be required to help cover the debts of richer countries.

Many Slovaks feel their country - the second poorest in the eurozone - should not have to bail out countries like Greece, correspondents say.

Mrs Radicova was then forced to turn to the opposition Social Democrats to secure Thursday's vote.

Afterwards, Freedom and Solidarity leader Richard Sulik said: "Today is a black day for Slovak and European taxpayers. I'm really sorry."

The price for the Social Democrats' support was early elections.

Mrs Radicova must now resign after tying a vote of confidence to Tuesday's failed attempt at ratification, the BBC's Rob Cameron reports.

She may be appointed to lead Slovakia as acting premier until the elections are held, our correspondent says.

But he adds that Mrs Radicova's coalition - which came to power just 15 months ago - has now become the first political victim of the eurozone crisis.

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