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Parties betting on old faces for general elections

SLOVAK political parties are already considering who will run for them in general elections set for autumn 2006. So far, only well-known politicians have secured spots on the lists of candidates, the Pravda daily wrote, although parties claim they will also try to field new personalities.

Despite its falling voter support - down to 10 percent in the latest poll - the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) is again counting on Vladimír Mečiar, its only leader since the party's establishment in 1991. The number two spot on the HZDS candidates list should belong to the party's secretary, Zdenka Kramplová, a former foreign minister and ambassador to Canada in Mečiar's 1994 to 1998 government.

Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda will lead his right-leaning Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) into general elections. The party is also looking for women to add to the SDKÚ's candidates list. While Deputy Foreign Minister Magda Vášáryová has said she plans to run for office, Deputy Labor Minister Iveta Radičová, another SDKÚ nominee, is undecided about her future in politics.

The strongest opposition party, the socialist Smer, has refused to say who its nominees will be. It is clear, however, that apart from party leader Robert Fico, Smer MEP Monika Beňová also plans to stand for election. She has said she is prepared to give up her MEP post if Smer wins the elections and forms the next government.

The Christian Democratic Movement is planning to put its current leaders in the top places on their candidates list, while some members of the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) are calling for the SMK to clean house. However, nobody has challenged the position of party leader Béla Bugár.

Finally, Pavol Rusko's New Citizen's Alliance (ANO) has yet to decide whether it will run in the next elections at all. Some of its members are considering joining Zuzana Martináková's Free Forum party, set up by SDKÚ defectors.

Compiled by Martina Jurinová from press reports
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