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Europe

Slovakia votes for second time on crucial eurozone rescue fund

media Leader of SMER-Social Democracy party Robert Fico traded early election … Reuters/Petr Josek

The expansion of the eurozone rescue fund, the EFSF, could get the go-ahead on Thursday after Slovakia's parliament prepared to reconvene for a fresh vote two days after having failed to ratify the move. Slovak approval is the final hurdle to expand the bailout fund to 440 billion euros to help prevent the spread of the eurozone's ongoing debt crisis.

 

Before the vote, expected later on Thursday or Friday, parliament is expected to approve a law on an early election, the price for the backing of Robert Fico's opposition left-wing Smer-SD in the vote. Slovakia's outgoing government met on Thursday before parliament was to open to formally agree on the snap election, set for 10 March next year.

All 17 members of the eurozone must back the expansion of the eurozone's rescue fund, but Slovakia became the only exception after a make-or-break vote failed late Tuesday.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

The junior coalition liberal party Freedom and Solidarity deserted Prime Minister Iveta Radicova, angry that the country, the eurozone's second poorest, would have to join a bailout fund for far richer eurozone members.

Europe breathed easier on Wednesday after Slovak parties agreed to hold the new vote this week.

Meanwhile, France says banks exposed to Greek debt will probably face bigger losses than first thought.

Ahead of a weekend meeting of G20 finance ministers in Paris, the finance ministry said the final figure would be more than the 21 per cent estimated so far. EU states are expected to set up a mechanism to allow banks in difficulty to seek assistance.

It had been reported that France wanted the EFSF to be modified to allow it to support banks, but Paris says this is not now the case.

 

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