Candidate lists close

WITH Christmas nearing, politicians have started fulfilling predictions that the holiday season’s traditions of mulled wine and carols will be commandeered for the purposes of Slovakia’s election campaign.

Mečiar says he will quit if his party does not hit 5 percent. Mečiar says he will quit if his party does not hit 5 percent. (Source: SME)

WITH Christmas nearing, politicians have started fulfilling predictions that the holiday season’s traditions of mulled wine and carols will be commandeered for the purposes of Slovakia’s election campaign.

Christmas has already met politics on several political parties’ billboards and soon the politicians on the parties’ official candidate lists will begin touring the country seeking votes in the March 10 elections.

The deadline for political parties to submit their lists of candidates and pay a €16,596 “election deposit” is Sunday, December 11. But before the end of that week the biggest players on the Slovak political scene had already presented many of their candidates to the public even though none of the parties had officially submitted their lists to the Central Election Commission (ÚVK) as of December 8.

When the period for filing the candidate lists closes on midnight of December 11, Prime Minister Iveta Radičová must convene the first meeting of the ÚVK before December 16.

Each party or party coalition that submits a candidate list is entitled to nominate a representative to serve on the election commission.

SDKÚ and Smer offer known names

The SDKÚ presidium approved the first 56 names on its candidate list on December 1 and Radičová does not appear on the list, as she has previously announced that she will leave the party and quit politics after the March elections.

There are few surprises on the SDKÚ candidate list but the most notable one seems to be that MP Stanislav Janiš, a prominent member of the party who served as SDKÚ’s parliamentary caucus chairman in the 2006-2010 election term and was slotted eighth in the 2010 elections, is listed at number 56 for 2012.

Janiš made the front pages of Slovak newspapers in November 2010 when he nominated Dobroslav Trnka, the incumbent general prosecutor, for re-election to the post despite the official opposition of the centre-right ruling coalition to Trnka’s return to that post. Prime Minister Radičová had expressed strong opposition to Trnka being re-elected and threatened to resign if that happened.

The SDKÚ will be led into the March elections by its chairman, Mikuláš Dzurinda, who is currently serving as Foreign Affairs Minister, followed by Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš, Justice Minister Lucia Žitňanská, and the current head of the party’s parliamentary caucus, Jozef Mikuš. Education Minister Eugen Jurzyca has slot 8 on the SDKÚ list and Pavol Frešo, the president of the Bratislava regional government, is listed in ninth place.

The presidium of the largest opposition party, Smer, approved its final candidate list on December 7.

“There are no surprises on the candidate list,” Smer leader Robert Fico said after the meeting of the presidium, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Fico will head Smer’s slate, followed by deputy chairmen Pavol Paška, Robert Kaliňák, Marek Maďarič, Dušan Čaplovič, and Peter Kažimír. Former ministers Ján Počiatek and Richard Raši from the 2006-2010 government are also in the top ten on Smer’s list.

SaS to run a judge

The candidate list of Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), which was originally part of the four-party centre-right ruling coalition that took the reins of government in 2010, will be led by party chairman Richard Sulík, followed by the party’s four ministers: Culture Minister Daniel Krajcer, Economy Minister Juraj Miškov, former defence minister Ľubomír Galko and Labour Minister Jozef Mihál.

The party’s candidate list will also feature Peter Osuský, a former member of the Civic Conservative Party (OKS) who refused to back changes to the eurozone bailout mechanism along with MPs from SaS, leading to the fall of the Radičová government.

A surprising name on the SaS candidate list is Peter Paluda, a judge who said he is not planning to give up his seat on the bench, adding that he “cannot afford to” as reported by the Sme daily.

Mečiar might quit

The March 2012 elections could also mean the departure from politics of former prime minister Vladimír Mečiar, the leader of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS).

“If we don’t succeed in the elections, that is if we don’t receive at least 5 percent, I personally and all members of the party board will quit on March 11 [one day after the elections],” Mečiar stated, as quoted by the Sme daily, while adding that this would not mean the end of the HZDS, which he called “the biggest party in Slovakia”.

The HZDS did not make it to parliament in 2010 because it failed to cross the 5-percent threshold needed to win seats. Since then it has been considered a marginal player in Slovak politics.

Several other marginalised politicians, such as those within the OKS and the Conservative Democrats of Slovakia (KDS) will take their chances as candidates on lists of other parties such as the slate prepared by Igor Matovič’s Ordinary People and Independent Personalities party.

A newly-emerging element in Slovak politics in recent weeks is the 99-percent movement, which registered as a political party on December 7 but had already flooded Slovak towns with billboards promoting 99-percent slogans drawn from the Occupy Wall Street movement that started in the US.

The party said it will run ‘civic candidates’ on its slate and their exact order will be determined by an internet vote just before the deadline for official submission of the list. Publicly-known names associated with the 99-percent movement include leftist activist Eduard Chmelár, a former director of the Slovak National Theatre’s ballet section, Mário Radačovský, and environmentalist Juraj Mesík. One of the main financial sponsors of the movement is businessman Ivan Weiss who was also behind the ‘new’ Party of Democratic Left (SDĽ) that emerged soon before the 2010 elections, Sme reported.

Political analysts do not view the chances of the 99-percent movement in the March elections very optimistically.

“Time is too short for new parties to establish themselves,” political analyst Miroslav Kusý told The Slovak Spectator. “That applies to this [99-percent] party, which is unable to come up with anything that would address the voters other than populist slogans.”

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