Slovak EFSF vote delayed as party abstains

Slovakia’s government may struggle to win today’s vote over whether to expand Europe’s bailout fund, after one of the ruling parties said it would abstain from the vote.

The government has tied today’s debate on the future of the European Financial Stability Facility to a confidence vote on the cabinet but now has to rally opposition parties to try to push through a deal.

The move by the coalition’s fourth member, Freedom and Solidarity, is likely to delay a ‘yes’ vote on the EFSF until a second vote scheduled for this week.

Freedom and Solidarity controls 21 of the coalition’s 77 votes and said it would abstain because as one of the poorest members of the single currency club, Slovakia should not pay for the debts racked up by more affluent countries.

Markets responded badly to the news, with the French CAC 40 index down 1.4 per cent, and the FTSE 100 down 1.2 per cent.

If Radicova loses the vote, as looked likely, she and two of her ruling coalition partners say they will be able to produce a majority for ratification of the EFSF deal by obtaining the support of the largest opposition party.

The leftist Smer party led by former Prime Minister Robert Fico has said it would be receptive - in exchange for major concessions including a cabinet reshuffle or early elections.