New Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radičová met August 25 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to discuss – among other things – the Slovak Parliament’s decision to withhold its €800 million contribution to the EU bailout plan for Greece. Not only did Radičová stand beside the decision, she even demanded an apology from EU finance chief Olli Rehn for having criticized the resolution.

Merkel said she regretted the decision, but voters back home in Slovakia were surely pleased. More than 70% of Slovaks are against the contribution, according to an opinion poll by TNS Slovakia.

 

 

Poll respondents and politicians questioned why Slovaks should give financial assistance to Greece, a country that is much wealthier than they are. This is confirmed by Eurostat: GDP per capita in Slovakia, the newest member of the Euro Area (EA16), is 24% lower than in Greece and one-third less than the EA16 average.

 

 

The only Slovak MPs who voted for the Greek bailout bill were two members of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), a member of Radičová’s governing coalition (one of them later said she had pressed the wrong button). The rest of the KDH abstained. The other three coalition partners unanimously voted against; this indicates that the KDH may be the “odd man out” in the fragile coalition.

 

The main opposition SMER party skipped the vote. Members of the Slovak National Party (SNS), SMER’s former coalition partner, either voted against or stayed away.