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Fico intends to give up party chairman post

SLOVAK PM Robert Fico no longer wants to be the chairman of his Smer party, as he says it conflicts with his tasks as the country’s leader.

"My government work does not leave me enough time to run the party," Fico said on Markíza TV over the weekend, although he did not when he might quit as party chairman.

According to Smer Deputy Chairman Dušan Čaplovič, Fico’s planned abdication is not due to any internal tensions within the party or to the PM's alleged problems with high blood pressure.

"It is the logical outcome of his having to give 100 percent to the government," Čaplovič said.

Politcal analyst László Öllös said Fico perhaps also wanted “to send out a signal that he is not concentrating all power in his hands."

According to Öllös, even if Fico gave up the party chairman post, it would not take away from his power, as the public would still regard him as the natural leader of Smer.

Monika Beňová, a member of the European Parliament for Smer, told the SME daily that she did not understand Fico's intentions

"I don't see any reason for this after such a massive election success. The prime minister is not called on to dedicate himself to party work, and can delegate some of his executive tasks to his cabinet ministers," Benová said.

Benová added that she though Fico wanted to give up his party post to be able to run in presidential elections in 2009.

Čaplovič estimated that Fico could give up his leadership of the party within two to three years, or just before 2010 elections.

Fico's possible replacements include Čaplovič himself, or Smer deputy chairmen Robert Kaliňák, Pavol Paška, and Marek Maďarič.

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