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The government is already much more cautious in making nominations to state posts than it was at the beginning of its term. SNS MP Jozef Ďuračka's university-student daughter is still on the board of the Trnava heating plant, but the government is avoiding similar cases these days. PM Robert Fico tends to stand behind names that are doubted by the media. If a journalist at a press conference asks about a name, Fico's team is immediately on the offensive.

The Fico government until now was verbally closer to the working class, but also had good relations with entrepreneurs. The Klub 500, an association of entrepreneurs under iron baron Vladimír Soták, has been given much more leeway than it got under the Mikuláš Dzurinda government. Klub 500 proposals have been worked into law.

The media have begun to ask if Soták is a sponsor of the Smer party. Soták denies it. However, this theory was supported last week by the proposed candidates for the regulatory council that will set prices for energy and water. Economy Minister Ľubomír Jahnátek proposed to the government two people who are close to Soták. All nominations were withdrawn, however, with the proviso that they had to be "harmonized". Yesterday the Economy Ministry proposed a list of names to the government that contained no one who is close to Soták. The candidates now include people who understand the energy market.

Their professional qualifications may not be enough, however. Fico has already said that he is interested above all in cheap prices. As easily as some candidates may win comfy posts on the regulatory council without tenders, they could just as easily lose their spots if energy prices rise.

Pravda, March 29

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