THE JUNIOR coalition party the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has selected Milan Melník as its presidential candidate for the election due to be held in 2009. The candidate was introduced on December 9, the ČTK newswire wrote.
It’s the first time that the HZDS has not nominated its long-time leader, Vladimír Mečiar, as candidate. Mečiar ran for president twice, but lost on both occasions: first to Rudolf Schuster in 1999, and then to the current president and former Mečiar-ally Ivan Gašparovič in 2004.
Melník, a 70-year old scientist and university teacher specialising in inorganic chemistry, said he would focus on education and the environment if elected.
He stressed that he is not a member of the HZDS, but that without the support of a political party he would be hard-pressed to run an election campaign.
Even though his name has not even appeared in rankings for the next election, he does not see his run as being in vain.
“If I did not believe in myself, I would not enter the race,” Melník told ČTK.
Smer and the Slovak National Party (SNS), the other parties in the ruling coalition, are backing the current president Ivan Gašparovič. The opposition parties have all pledged to support Iveta Radičová, the deputy chairwoman of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) for the post.
So-far public opinion polls rate Gašparovič and Radičová as the leading candidates.