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IN SHORT

SNS MP defects to HZDS

MIROSLAV Kotian, an MP elected for the ruling Slovak National Party (SNS), has left the party to join another coalition member, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS).

Government officials said the defection was not dramatic, as the number of coalition MPs has not changed. The SNS now has 19 MPs while the HZDS total rises from 15 to 16. Together, the coalition still has 85 MPs, a solid majority in the 150-seat legislature.

According to the SNS's Rafael Rafaj, Kotian left because he was about to be fired as head of the regional party organization in Trenčín following problems with lists of SNS candidates for the upcoming municipal elections.

HZDS leader Vladimír Mečiar said the move had not been initiated by the HZDS, and that he hoped the SNS would not blame his party.

PM Robert Fico said the switch was an internal affair of the SNS and HZDS, and that he does not plan to change the agreed distribution of posts within the coalition.

But political analyst Grigorij Mesežnikov said the affair would have impact on relations between the SNS and HZDS.

"Relations between these two parties are already bad, and now they will be even worse," Mesežnikov told the Sme daily.

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