Politicians chasing first-time voters

POLITICIANS have a good reason to visit schools and universities ahead of the general elections. According to the Statistics Bureau there are 434,000 first-time voters in Slovakia, young people aged between 18 and 22 years.

According to analysts, first-time voters are an interesting, yet unstable voter group. In the 2002 general elections they mainly voted for the opposition Smer and New Citizen's Alliance (ANO) parties. According to Oľga Gyarfášová from the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) think tank, today the group also tends to favor Smer and the opposition Free Forum, which was formed by defectors from the ruling Slovak Democratic and Christian Union party.

On the other hand, an IVO poll carried out at the end of 2005 also showed support among young voters for the Hungarian Coalition Party, the Christian Democratic Movement, the Slovak Communist Party, and Vladimír Mečiar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia.

Analysts warned, however, that young voters cannot be counted on to vote.

"The main feature of this group is that there are many undecided voters and those who will not go to elections. This will probably also be reflected in the June 17 elections," Gyárfášová told the SME daily.

Compiled by Martina Jurinová from press reports
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