POTENTIAL candidates running for the Slovak presidency must hand in their petitions, signed by either 15,000 citizens or 15 MPs, no later than January 9, 2014.

By noon that day, Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška confirmed the candidacy of nine contestants: current Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer party), philanthropist and former businessman Andrej Kiska (civic candidate), ex-chairman of the Christian-Democratic Movement (KDH) Ján Čarnogurský (civic), head of the KDH caucus Pavol Hrušovský (KDH, Most-Híd, SDKÚ), Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) MP Peter Osuský, Jozef Behýľ (civic), and former actor-turned-politician Milan Kňažko.

On the morning of January 9, Milan Melník also filed his candidacy, according to the TASR newswire. Famous cardiologist Viliam Fischer managed to submit his candidacy as well, with the signatures of 17,552 citizens, the SITA newswire wrote.

The Party of Modern Slovakia (SMS) will hand in its petition sheets to support its presidential candidate, Jozef Šimko. SMS chairman Milan Urbáni told SITA that in spite of the very short deadline, the party managed to collect more than the 15,000 signatures required, in order to support Šimko, a former vice-chairman of the Movement for Democracy (HZD) and the current mayor of Rimavská Sobota.

Independent MP Radoslav Procházka and Gyula Bárdos (Party of Hungarian Community-SMK) are two more prospective candidates expected to file their petition sheets. Helena Mezenská of Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) is also collecting signatures, but it is not clear whether she will manage to collect enough of them to register as a candidate, TASR wrote.

The communist party of Slovakia (KSS) shall also place its presidential candidate, former Slovak ambassador to Argentina, Ján Jurišta. The party collected about 16,000 signatures to support his bid. Jurišta is not a KSS member, but rather a sympathiser, KSS chairman Jozef Hrdlička told SITA.

Those interested have until midnight, January 9 to submit their petitions for the post. Presidential elections in Slovakia are direct, with two rounds. The first round is to take place on March 15, and the second on March 29.

(Source: TASR, SITA)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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