Exclusive interview with Slovakian Euro bailout rebel Juraj Droba MPPosted on October 10, 2011
The attention of the global media has been fixed – unusually – on Slovakia this week. With 16 of the 17 Eurozone nations already having committed their taxpayers to supporting a vastly increased bailout of Greece, Slovakia was the only one left standing. On Tuesday, their Parliament voted to reject the EU’s bailout plan, thanks in large part to an insurgency led by the Freedom and Solidarity Party – commonly known in Slovakia as the SaS – which led to the collapse of the governing coalition.
The SaS are a true classical liberal party, combining free market economics with civil libertarian principles such as drug legalisation. What is it that led them to bring down the coalition government of Slovakia rather than vote for the Greek bailout? What will happen next? To find out, I conducted a brief interview with my friend Juraj Droba, one of the 21 SaS MP sitting in the Slovakian Parliament and Vice-Chairman of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. Square brackets denote my own explanatory notes.
Q. Can you sum up for British readers why you and your parliamentary colleagues have voted to reject the bailout motion?
Many reasons – the moral hazard, the fallacy of trying to solve indebtedness with more debt which will only prolong the agony, the principle that poorer people in responsible countries must not pay for irresponsibility of politicians in richer countries. This money would not go to people, but to the shareholders of the French and German banks – these profited heavily over decades from high-interest risky loans guaranteed by the governments.
Q. Why do you think it was you and your colleagues in Slovakia who said No when all the other Eurozone countries said yes to the bailout?
We are a new party, composed of people who were previously successful in the commercial sphere. Our bottoms are not glued to the political chairs, we are ready to leave anytime and even sacrifice our mere political existence for a principle as noble as pointing out the main trobules with EFSF and ESM [the Euro bailouts].
Q. Is there any polling evidence of what the Slovakian voters think about the issue? Will this have an impact on the next general election in your country?
Over 50 percent majority did not want Slovakia to participate in the bailout. The impact on the early elections in March 2012 is questionable, several other issues are more salient than a somewhat remote and complicated EFSF.
Q. The EU is famous for making people vote again if they come out with the “wrong” answer. Will the parliament have a second vote on the issue – and if so, how soon will it be and what do you think the result will be?
Unfortunately, yes. It will happen this Friday and it will be carried with the votes of the opposition. The price we pay is early elections, because our Liberal party was removed from the government coalition.
Q. If the rest of the Eurozone goes for bailouts and further fiscal integration, can you foresee a day when Slovakia would want to leave the EU to go its own way?
No. Slovaks as people are rather euro-optimistic, as evidenced in polls. We still believe that euro is a good project. We are not against the common currency, we are against irresponsibility of governments and constant breaking of the basic rules…
Q. Have you or your colleagues been pressured from outside Slovakia to change your position and vote for the bailout – either from EU institutions, businesses or foreign politicians?
All of these combined. SaS leader Richard Sulik had a private meeting with Guido Westerwelle [German Minister for Foreign Affairs], the Prime Minister was harshly pushed by Merkel and Sarkozy, we as Liberals received a decent and polite letter from our partners from the ELDR [the European Liberal Democrats, who both the SaS and the UK Lib Dems belong to], foreign diplomats mentioned the issue at every possible meeting occassion with any of us, etc. The pressure even increased after this week’s No vote.
Tags: Angela Merkel, Bailouts, Deficit, EU, EU Commission, Euro, Eurorealists, Euroscepticism, Eurosceptics, Eurozone, Freedom, Freedom and Solidarity, Guido Westerwelle, Interviews, Juraj Droba MP, Nicolas Sarkozy, SaS, Slovakia