The one-party government of Robert Fico will be proud of itself today after it steamrolled accession to the new European Stability Mechanism (ESM) through parliament just before lunchtime, despite a wave of criticism from the opposition, and not without some friction and rule-breaking.
The most outspoken critic of the ESM, head of the SaS party Richard Sulik, has been appealing to MPs all week to postpone the ESM vote, and made a final emotional plea in parliament, pointing out how there was no rush and how even the German president is refusing to endorse it until the German Constitutional Court produces its findings on the ESM agreement, which it is questioning.
With the Smer-SD majority government very much in favour of the ESM, though, attempts to stall the vote further were halted by parliamentary speaker Pavol Paska, who refused even to allow the SaS party and the OLaNO party of Igor Matovic from convening a caucus meeting, even though the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure demand that he respect such a request immediately if at least two parties call for it.
So ignoring the rules of procedure, Paska called for the ESM vote to go ahead anyway, with the following outcome:
In favour: 118
(1 no vote)
So Slovakia is now bound to the ESM bailout fund, with all its imperfections and disputed conditions. Slovakia’s initial cash deposit to the new fund will be around EUR 660 million, but it has bound itself to as much as EUR 5.7 billion.
After the vote, a disgusted Richard Sulik said Slovak parliament had surrendered its sovereignty today as 118 MPS had stuck their heads in a noose that there is no escape from, as there is no way to withdraw from the ESM. On the subject of how parliamentary speaker Pavol Paska had disrespected the rules of procedure, Sulik called it a black day for democracy and for Slovakia.