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Slovakia's parliament approves expansion of eurozone bailout fund in repeat vote
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) ' Slovakia's Parliament has approved expanding the powers of the EU bailout fund in a repeat of Tuesday's vote, which had failed.
Slovakia is the last of the 17 eurozone nations approve increasing the size and powers of the fund, which is designed to boost Europe's defenses against the debt market turmoil.
Parliament rejected the changes Tuesday because a junior coalition party was against it, causing the government to fall.
The main opposition Smer-Social Democracy agreed to help the outgoing coalition in exchange for early elections.
On Thursday, 114 lawmakers voted in favor of boosting the bailout fund's powers, while 76 were needed.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) ' The Slovak parliament on Thursday endorsed early elections in March, a key condition set by the main opposition party in exchange for its support in a vote to expand the powers of the EU's bailout fund.
The parliament had rejected the changes to the bailout fund on Tuesday because a junior coalition partner, the Freedom and Solidarity party, was against it. In a desperate effort to force that party to vote in favor, Prime Minister Iveta Radicova had tied the vote on the bailout fund to a confidence vote in the government. When the vote failed, her 1-year-old government collapsed.
The main opposition party, Smer-Social Democracy, then agreed to help the outgoing coalition approve the expanded fund in a second vote ' to be held Thursday ' in exchange for early elections.
Lawmakers voted Thursday 143-3 in favor of holding early elections on March 10.
Slovakia is the last of the 17 eurozone nations to vote on increasing the size and powers of the bailout fund.
With the government now defunct, and with the promise of early elections, Ser chairman and former Prime Minister Robert Fico struck a deal Wednesday with leaders of three parties of the outgoing coalition to vote in favor of the bailout fund.
His leftist party is currently by far the strongest political force in the country and stands a good chance to win the early ballot.