VLADIMÍR Mečiar was re-elected chairman of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), part of the ruling coalition, on June 9 at the party's national congress in Nitra.
Mečiar won 217 out of 240 votes in an open ballot that was decided by a show of hands, remaining the party's one and only leader since its inception in 1991.
His only opponent was MP Tibor Mikuš, who is also the chairman of the HZDS' Trnava branch. But due to the support shown for Mečiar in the open ballot, the vote on Mikuš did not even take place. Mikuš had supported Viliam Veteška, a party vice-chair until the congress, for the post of party leader, but Veteška started experiencing serious health problems shortly before the election and was unable to continue in the running. He was admitted into hospital on June 8, one day before the congress.
Milan Urbáni was re-elected vice-chair of the HZDS and Agriculture Minister Miroslav Jureňa replaced Veteška as the party's vice-chair for economic policy. Zdenka Kramplová kept her position as party chief secretary.
Mečiar announced at the congress that the party should conclude talks with the European democratic party ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats) in September, the TASR newswire wrote. On June 10, chairman of ALDE Graham Watson denied that talks are being held with the HZDS about its membership.
"I can confirm that we have been twice contacted by members of Mr. Meciar's party informing us about this possibility, but no negotiations took place," Watson told TASR. "They offered to us that we send our representatives to their weekend congress and we refused."
Mečiar plans to convene a special party congress by the end of the year to change the organizational structure of the party and to strengthen internal discipline, the ČTK newswire wrote.
Mečiar's re-election did not surprise political analysts. Grigorij Mesežnikov and Rastislav Tóth told the TA3 news channel that Mečiar has strengthened his position in the party. Ivan Lexa, the controversial former director of the Slovak Intelligence Service, was among the congress guests. "He took his place as a guest who belongs inseparably to the history of this party," Mečiar told the ČTK.
Veteška, 53, underwent an eight-hour surgery on June 12, during which the doctors removed a tumour as big as an egg from his brain. It was a serious surgery, but no "dramatic" events occured during it, the head of the neurological clinic of the Kramáre Hospital, Juraj Šteňo, told the ČTK shortly after the operation. Šteňo led the operation team.
Veteška woke up from narcosis on June 13 and his condition was reportedly stable.
Further examinations will show whether the tumour was malignant.
Jana Liptáková with press reports
18. Jun 2007 at 0:00