Slovakia. During the year, Slovakia became an example of
how a single coalition party in a member state can stop a
major EU process - temporarily. The Liberal Freedom and
Solidarity (SaS) said no when the government would decide in
the autumn to strengthen the eurozone crisis fund EFSF for
assistance to the crisis-hit Greece. SaS leader Richard
Sulík explained that it was better to let Greece go bankrupt
than that Slovak taxpayers would cover the debts of
wealthier countries. Many voters supported Sulík's line and
felt that little Slovakia, the second poorest in the euro
zone, had no obligation to sacrifice for Greece's mismanaged
economy. Slovakia had gone through a hard time of material
sacrifice before reaching the EU and the euro.
Countryaah official site, Prime Minister Iveta Radičová did not want Slovakia to
dump the big European project with the crisis fund, and she
made the vote in Parliament a vote of confidence for the
government. Radičová lost, and the government resigned, but
the Social Democratic opposition promised to support the
Prime Minister's European policy against the demand that she
vote in parliamentary elections. In a second parliamentary
vote, Slovakia, as the last euro area member, was thus able
to approve a strengthening of the crisis fund, while
Radičová announced new elections until March 2012.
Opinion polls showed that most voters were opposed to
Slovakia contributing to the Eurozone crisis fund at all.
The average pension in Slovakia is less than a third of the
average Greek pension, and SaS leader Richard Sulík said it
was difficult to explain why Slovak pensioners would take
austerity to help Greek pensioners or Italian MPs, who have
the highest salaries among European Parliamentarians.
Slovakia has also undergone austerity with lower public
wages and increased taxes, and in April the country had the
third highest unemployment rate in the euro zone, about 14%,
after Spain and Ireland.
At the end of the year, more than 1,000 doctors resigned
in protest of low wages. In December, however, the doctors
agreed with the state employer on salary increases and they
returned to work.