IN SHORT

SDA says "yes" to Smer merger

LED by Robert Fico, delegates to the second congress of the Social Democratic Alliance (SDA) approved a merger with Smer in Zvolen on Saturday, the TASR news wire wrote.

"Our goal is to support the formation of a powerful social-democratic party, which Slovakia needs as a counterweight to the current right-wing policymakers," SDA chairman Milan Ftáčnik said. "Such a party is possible under Smer, which has already changed its name to Smer - Sociálna Demokracia."

Ftáčnik said he could hardly imagine a strong social democratic party in Slovakia that lacked participation by Smer. He denied that the merger represents an effort by the SDA to gain political posts.

A conference is planned for the first half of 2005 between Smer and the SDA to work out details of the merger. It should, Ftáčnik said, produce a comprehensive social-democratic platform.

SDA has 800 registered members and no parliament representatives.

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