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Ailing Mečiar won't go

VLADIMÍR Mečiar, chairman of the ruling coalition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), is due to undergo heart surgery in the near future. Despite his poor health, however, he is not planning to leave politics, say his party peers.

VLADIMÍR Mečiar, chairman of the ruling coalition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), is due to undergo heart surgery in the near future. Despite his poor health, however, he is not planning to leave politics, say his party peers.

Political analysts predict that if Mečiar left the scene, his party would suffer heavily in the polls given that most HZDS voters support the party because of its leader, the Sme daily wrote.

"The whole party depends on him," said political analyst Miroslav Kusý.

An HZDS without Mečiar could also be an attractive political target for Robert Fico's Smer and the other ruling coalition member, the Slovak National Party, both of which would stand a strong chance of winning HZDS voters.

On the other hand, if Mečiar left politics, the Slovak domestic political scene might be calmer.

According to Grigorij Mesežnikov, the head of the Institute for Public Affairs think-tank, it was Mečiar who provoked many of the recent conflicts between his HZDS and the strongest ruling party, Smer.

However, the ruling coalition could also be endangered, as a HZDS without Mečiar would be a more acceptable partner for the country's right-wing opposition parties. The Christian Democratic Movement says it could see itself cooperating with the HZDS if it lost its current chairman, while the SDKÚ and SMK are even more open to cooperation.

As Slovak prime minister from 1994-1998, Mečiar presided over a government whose authoritarian behaviour left Slovakia internationally isolated.

Political analysts say the chances of Mečiar leaving politics are slim.


- Martina Jurinová

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