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Slovakia's vote will decide fate of European bailout fund

Flags of the European Union countries are gathered together ahead of a ceremony in Dublin, Ireland.

Jeremy Hobson: And we'll start this morning in the Slovakian parliament, where we are just hours away from a key vote.

Slovakia is the last of the 17 eurozone countries that has to approve the expansion of the European bailout fund which would be used to send more money to Greece and other countries and banks that are in trouble. One political party in Slovakia has already said it will abstain from voting on ratification. And if the vote fails, Europe's bailout plans are put back in doubt.

The BBC's Steve Evans joins us now from Berlin with more. Good morning, Steve.

Steve Evans: Good morning.

Hobson: Well I never thought we'd be talking about the international ramifications of a vote in Slovakia, but it does seem like this is an important one.

Evans: It is, Slovakia, the eastern bit of Czechoslovakia -- which broke off with the fall of communism -- is in the euro zone, which means it's one of the seventeen countries which has to ratify the bailout of Greece.

Everybody else has done it, but there is a political deadlock in Slovakia. And if Slovakia doesn't say yes, there's an awful lot of difficulty. And if you look at the way the European markets have been going, they've been going down as I speak, and that's because they think Slovakia may say no. So Slovakia -- not the most powerful country on the planet -- has an awful lot of power today.

Hobson: Well, is there a real chance here, Steve, that the Slovakian Parliament will decide no, they're not going to vote to expand the size of the European bailout fund?

Evans: There is, Jeremy, and that's because it shows what this process is all about. It's 17 different countries having to agree -- and of course, all kinds of domestic politics comes to play. The leadership in Slovakia has said this is a vote of confidence -- if you vote this one down, the government falls. Well that of course means that some parties will vote against it.

So the whole thing is wrapped up in a confusing way between domestic politics and the bigger politics of the euro. And that's pretty well how it's been in every single one of these votes, which means there's been a fight every step of the way.

Hobson: The BBC's Steve Evans in Berlin, Steve, thanks.

Evans: You're welcome.

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