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Low turnout expected for municipal elections

A RECENT poll by the Statistics Bureau suggests that only one in three Slovaks intend to vote in municipal elections, scheduled for December 2.

Turnout in elections to all levels of government has been falling steadily for the last eight years, and in the 2006 local ballot is expected to fall to 34 percent from 49 percent four years ago and 54 percent in 1998.

The least interest in the elections was found among 18 to 24-year-olds, and among citizens living in Bratislava and Košice. On the other hand, the residents of Trnava and Nitra regions, along with self-employed entrepreneurs and managers, expressed the greatest interest in the municipal vote.

A further 12 percent of people are still undecided whether to take part.

Even though local governments now have far greater powers than even four years ago, due to a policy of “decentralization”, or devolving central government powers to regional and local bodies, political analysts say voters seem not to have understood the importance of municipal elections in deciding the course of events that will most closely affect their lives for the next four years.

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