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SDKÚ and Smer clash over economic policies

TWO significant political rivals - the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) and the opposition Smer party yesterday started a sharp verbal battle over economic topics after Smer published its political programme, which the party approved at its national congress last weekend.

Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda, the SDKÚ chairman, and Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš said that by planning to cancel the flat tax and other changes Smer wanted to return Slovakia to socialism.

Smer chairman Robert Fico reacted later saying that Mikloš and Dzurinda were merely "unqualified spokesmen of the international financial groups" who understood that, following Smer's congress, that the "Klondike era in Slovakia is over".

Mikloš said that Smer's proposals are irresponsible, incompetent, populist and demagogic. The SDKÚ officials believe that the flat tax is Slovakia's trademark, which Smer plans to destroy.

Fico, on the other hand, repeatedly accused the SDKÚ of buying MPs in parliament.

Political analyst Grigorij Mesežnikov thinks that the battle will continue. In his opinion the SDKÚ will provide expert arguments and undermine the expertise of Smer's officials "which will most likely not be a problem".

Compiled by Martina Jurinová from press reports
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