News / Europe

Slovakia Puts Off Crucial Bailout Fund Vote

Slovakia's Prime Minister Iveta Radicova holds a speech during a Parliament session during which the lawmakers will vote on the approval for more money for the EU bailout fund in Bratislava, Slovakia, October 11, 2011.
Slovakia's Prime Minister Iveta Radicova holds a speech during a Parliament session during which the lawmakers will vote on the approval for more money for the EU bailout fund in Bratislava, Slovakia, October 11, 2011.

Slovakia has become the only European Union country to reject a crucial bailout fund for debt-strapped countries.  Slovakian lawmakers are expected vote again on the measure even as the fallout of Europe's high debt continues to spread, with tens of thousands of people protesting austerity measures in France.  

After 10 hours of debate, Slovakian lawmakers failed to approve a measure to expand the E.U. bailout fund.  The fund aims to help shaky economies like Greece and help stop a growing sovereign debt and banking crisis that threatens to spread well beyond Europe's borders.

European Union leaders had approved the measure in July.  But it needs to be ratified by the parliaments of all 17 countries sharing the euro currency to go into effect.  Sixteen countries have done so to date.  Slovakia is the last holdout.

But news services report the measure is expected to be approved in a second vote, with support from opposition lawmakers.

Slovaks generally look favorably on the European Union.  But Slovakia is one of Europe's poorest nations, and many of its citizens are unhappy about paying for what they consider are their free-spending counterparts in Greece.

But Slovakia Prime Minister Iveta Radicova argues the very survival of the eurozone is at stake.  She has also linked the parliament's vote to her own government's survival.

Slovakia is not the only nation grumbling about the bailout fund.

Many people in the Netherlands and Germany also opposed the measure.  For their part, many analysts say Europe must take more far-reaching measures to tackle the spreading debt crisis.

Meanwhile, austerity measures adopted by a number of European countries to tackle the crisis have sparked strikes and protests.  Tens of thousands of French were on the streets of Paris and other cities across France, demonstrating Tuesday against government cutbacks.

Fifty-nine-year-old French teacher Jean Carroy joined the march through the capital.

Carroy believes there must be other ways to resolve the debt crisis than cutting government spending.  He says the government's budget plans to slice thousands of teaching positions across the country.

Social worker Melanie Zede also joined the demonstration with her nine-year-old daughter Ines.

Zede says she sees people have less and less money and means to survive.  She blames both the eurozone crisis and bad choices by the conservative government of President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The government cutbacks come as Mr. Sarkozy faces a tough re-election next year.  His popularity has hovered at record lows for months.

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