IN SHORT

Smer sees HZD as strategic partner

FOLLOWING successful co-operation in regional elections, the opposition party Smer is interested in future alliances with the Movement for Democracy (HZD) party, Smer Chairman Robert Fico said at a December 12 press conference, the TASR news agency reported.

Smer regards HZD - the party founded by current Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič shortly before the 2002 general election - as one of its strategic partners. Gašparovič is a former high profile member of the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) of ex-PM Vladimír Mečiar.

Smer is eager to cooperate with the HZD, provided that the latter makes it into parliament at next year's general elections.

"If the HZD is represented in Slovakia's parliament after the next general election, Smer would certainly like to co-operate with the party," said Fico.

In order to qualify for parliament, the HZD would have to get at least 5 percent of the vote in the elections. According to current opinion polls, the party's support is around 2 percent.

Fico said that the two parties both have strong social programmes.

"That's why it won't be weird if you see we have common actions in parliament, or if you see us having common events, maybe even events related to the 2006 general election," said Fico.

HZD Chairman Jozef Grapa regards the 5 percent threshold needed to enter parliament as his party's strategic goal.

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