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HZDS MEPs bidding for entry to liberal club

THREE Members of the European Parliament from the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) are bidding for membership in the liberal and democrat grouping within the European Parliament.

THREE Members of the European Parliament from the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) are bidding for membership in the liberal and democrat grouping within the European Parliament.

The party, a member of Slovakia's ruling coalition, has in the past applied for admission to the European People's Party, but has consistently been blocked by EPP leader Hans-Gert Poettering and the three existing Slovak members of the EPP, the opposition SDKÚ, KDH and SMK parties.

According to EPP rules, all EPP member parties from an applicant's home country must support its application for it to be approved.

However, MEP Sergej Kozlík now says that the HZDS MEPs are in negotiations with the liberals in the European Parliament, a grouping made up of members of the European Liberal Party and the European Democratic Party.

The liberals in the EP consistently support issues such as rights for homosexuals, the eradication of social male and female stereotypes, and the legalization of euthanasia - the antithesis of the platform of the people's party bloc the HZDS was formerly bidding to enter.

Membership in such groupings gives parties access to Europe-wide political and personal contacts, and allows them to consult policy and strategy ahead of important EU events such as summits and meetings of ministers.

The leader of the EP's liberal and democrat group, Graham Watson, said they had been in contact with several Slovak parties and confirmed that he was scheduled to have a working lunch with HZDS MEP Irena Belohorská. However, he said he could not imagine the HZDS joining the group.

The three parties of the Slovak ruling coalition are in a difficult situation in the European Parliament. The Slovak National Party (SNS) has no representative in the EP, although Bruno Gollnisch, head of the new far-right grouping Identity-Tradition-Sovereignty, did not rule out supporting the SNS in elections to the European Parliament in 2009.

Meanwhile, the Party of European Socialists (PES) suspended Prime Minister Robert Fico's Smer party last October because of its decision to form a coalition with the far-right SNS. At the end of this month the PES should discuss further strategy regarding Smer's membership.


- Tom Nicholson

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