SLOVAKIA will send its 14 deputies to the 626-member European Parliament (EP) following the June 13 elections. Before the April 9 deadline, almost every major political party has put together a complete, 14-person list of candidates.
The ruling Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) is the only political party to put a popular but inexperienced personality on the top of its list of candidates for the upcoming elections to the European legislative body.
Analysts, maintain that thorough knowledge of EU policy should be a must for any candidate.
Leading the popularity charts for months, opposition Smer has joined its efforts with three other parties in drawing up a list of candidates.
Thus, nominees of the Party of the Democratic Left, Social Democrats, and the Green Party are also on the Smer list. Leading is Monika Beňová, vice-chairwoman of Smer. Beňová is currently her party's observer to the EP.
The second position belongs to Miloš Koterec, who has served in Brussels as Deputy Head of the Slovak mission to NATO. Ranking third is Zvolen Mayor Vladimír Maňka, vice-chairman of the Democratic Left.
The second most popular party, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), has put its MP Sergej Kozlík first on its list. Kozlík served twice as deputy prime minister and once as finance minister in the governments of Vladimír Mečiar, and is now his party's observer to the EP. He thinks that Slovakia, as a member of the EU, should preserve its sovereignty in defence and security policies.
Irena Belohorská, named third on of the list, was also a member of one the Mečiar-led governments: In 1993 - 1994 she served as minister of health and she is also a member of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly.
The Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) is one of the three major groups that have named women as top candidates for the EP elections. Edit Bauer, former state secretary of the Labour Ministry, is a party MP and EP observer.
The ethnic Hungarian party has put its Foreign Affairs State Secretary József Berényi in second place on its list of candidates. Surprisingly, Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Pál Csáky is not on the party's eurolist. The reason, the SMK said, is that the party failed to find a suitable replacement for his government post.
The Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) has chosen two former medical doctors to top their list. Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Anna Záborská is a party MP. Also in a potentially winning rank, Miroslav Mikolášik, former Slovak ambassador to Canada, is second. Ján Hudacký, 129th on the party's list for the 2002 parliamentary elections and head of the Prešov-based Regional Advisory and Information Centre, is third.
Currently fifth on the popularity chart, the Communist Party (KSS) nominated Vice Chairman Karol Fajnor, an unsuccessful candidate for the position of Bratislava mayor, to top its list. Interestingly, the party also nominated a 49-year-old Palestinian born in Syria, Mohamed Salha. He said he had been interested in the ideas of communism since he was 16. Salha, however, lists only ninth.
Slovak National Party (SNS) leader Peter Súlovský will lead the party's list for the vote. He gained diplomatic experience serving as chargé d'affaires in Havana and the Slovak ambassador to Argentina.
Former TV journalist Eva Černá, a current MP for the liberal New Citizen's Alliance (ANO), was to be ANO's number one candidate. However, the party has finally offered the top spot to Jozef Heriban, and Černá is listed only as number 2.
When reached for comment on his candidacy, Peter Štastný, former Czechoslovak national ice hockey representative, replied: "I think that I have enough talent and experience to be able to serve this [post] responsibly, honestly, and effectively."
Surprisingly, he is the top contender for the MEP post nominated by the SDKÚ led by PM Mikuláš Dzurinda. The ruling party, whose support has dropped to just over 6 percent, is the only political party that has put a non-political personality so high on its eurolist.
Juraj Marušiak from the Slovak Academy of Science's Institute of Political Sciences told the TASR news wire that candidates for MEP spots "should have a certain amount of experience with European policies and know how European institutions function." Marušiak said the melting support for the SDKÚ explained Šťastný's candidacy.
According to recent polls, no other political party has a feasible chance of filling MEP posts in Brussels. However, analysts suggest that the elections are unlikely to attract as many voters as national parliamentary elections, so the proportions of the parties in each body may be different. A poll conducted at the end of last year suggested that only one third of those eligible would turn out to vote.
Based on their current popularity, Smer might have the most MEPs, perhaps four; the HZDS, SMK, and KDH two; and the SDKÚ, KSS, ANO and SNS one each.
"Slovak voters have no experience with MEP election, so popular personalities, rather than political parties, might attract voters," analyst Ľuboš Kubín said.
13. Apr 2004 at 0:00 | László Juhász