Yesterday afternoon head of the SaS party and parliamentary chairman Richard Sulik wrote a blog entry in daily SME explaining the circumstances surrounding the EFSF vote. Here The Daily gives you an exclusive translation of his thoughts.
Before the elections (June 2010) the world was fine. We all claimed that rescuing irresponsible countries was a moral hazard. Our approach was best explained by Iveta Radičová in the Blue reports from May 2010,where on page three she writes:
“As long as we continue to pay for irresponsible governments, for irresponsible European institutions, for the irresponsibility of rating agencies and for the irresponsible conduct of banks, then solidarity is upside down, when the responsible and poorer have to chip in for the irresponsible and the rich.“
She continues on page four claiming that “Slovakia is a sovereign, fully-fledged member of the eurozone and the European Union. We have no reason to bow and quietly anticipate the decisions of institutions in Europe“
Not even a year and a half has passed since then and the SDKU party has turned 180 degrees, which naturally invoked also huge pressure on PM Iveta Radicova herself. Conversely, the SaS party continues to hold precisely this position, with which it went into the elections and based on which it got substantial voter support.
In March of this year, over six months ago, in parliament Ivan Mikloš told me that the capacity of the bailout fund was to be increased. He met my reaction that we would not agree with it with the reply “yes, you will”. I am not sure whether our coalition partner underestimated the situation, but serious discussion, based on practical arguments, simply did not take place. Any debates were significantly affected by the attitude “bow and quietly await the decisions of Europe’s institutions“. It is difficult to put forward arguments that way and then when I couldn’t even address the parliamentary caucuses, I wrote a brochure that summarised all our arguments. Instead of supporters of the bailout fund doing the same, we were accused of populism.
Our arguments that expansion of the bailout fund meant saving foreign banks with the money of Slovak taxpayers and that Slovakia was to pay the most, also met with deaf ears.
Shortly before voting there were three options on the table from our side on how to support the temporary bailout fund:
1. A green card for the temporary bailout fund and a green card for the permanent bailout mechanism. SaS would vote against, and the rest of the coalition in favour, and so it would depend on Smer-SD whether the EFSF would pass or not.
2. Common support for the temporary bailout fund and common refusal of the permanent mechanism. The whole coalition would support the temporary bailout fund in modified form so that we would not block the remaining countries and the whole coalition would reject the permanent bailout mechanism, which would not block the other countries.
3. Waiver of other countries toward Slovakia. The Prime Minister herself came up with this proposal and she claimed that she had discussed it on the level of European leaders. It means that if Slovakia would veto some specific payment in line with the agreement, the other countries would waive their claims toward Slovakia.
Unfortunately, all three proposals were rejected and instead pure blackmail was used. Voting on the bailout fund was linked to a vote of confidence in the government and an issue that was in conflict to the government manifesto. It is totally absurd and extremely incorrect to blackmail a coalition partner like this.
Even at the Časta – Papiernička retreat, just one month ago (12 September), Iveta Radičová rejected combining it with a vote of confidence in the government, and what surprised me even more was Ivan Mikloš, who had already started to demand it – through the media and while Iveta Radičova was absent. Of course, I don’t know exactly what happened in SDKÚ, but I don’t really remember how a day before voting, on Monday afternoon in the Coalition Council, Iveta Radičová argued that she did not want an international embarrassment and that she would hand in her resignation, either before or after the vote. This was intended to be the political price to pay for the fact that also SMER would vote in favour of the EFSF bailout fund. I personally think that any concessions toward Fico were senseless and that fear would not allow him not to vote IN FAVOUR. All that was necessary was to make it possible for him.
On the next morning the Prime Minister announced to the coalition party leaders that she “had decided to combine the vote in the bailout fund with a government confidence vote. Naturally, in such a case Fico could not vote IN FAVOUR, not even by accident. That is why I say it was not about the bailout fund.
Who invoked this situation that literally blocked the opposition from voting in favour of the bailout fund and at the same time knows in confidence the principal and long-term attitude of its coalition partner, cannot concurrently claim that it was about the bailout fund. I regret that Iveta Radičová decided to blackmail the very party that supported her the most, far more than her own parent party, and at the same time she knew exactly that we would not vote in favour of the bailout fund. She also knew very well that we were not stuck to our seats and that for us it was not about a bailout stance, but a fundamental attitude in politics.
Everyone can create their own idea of who brought down the government.
Author: Chairman of Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, Richard Sulik
Translation (c) The Daily.sk