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PRESS digest: SME DAILY

"Elections without a predator"
By Peter Schutz


News item: Slovakia held municipal elections on December 2, with no party emerging as the clear winner.


Despite the best efforts of many politicians, above all the prime minister, to claim the weekend's municipal elections as a victory for their party, there was not clear election victor.

Unlike the Czech Republic or Hungary, where citizens also recently went to the local polls, in Slovakia there was no party that vanquished its competitors on the election field (compared to the OKS and Fidesz), and that could thus be called a predator. Fico's "analysis" that he claimed showed him to be the election victor is disingenuous because he "forgot" to account for all those election districts he inherited from the former reformed communist SDĽ party [which Fico's Smer absorbed in 2005].

Instead, the opposition has more grounds for satisfaction, as its symbolic victories in urban centres bucked the negative trend of voter opinion polls. The defeats suffered by leftist candidates Monika Beňová (Bratislava) and Boris Farkašovský (Košice) were surprising only in their decisiveness, and raise the question of whether they showed the political inclinations of the residents of these towns, or their appreciation for the work of incumbents Ďurkovský and Knapík.

The sensational result from Žilina, where 16-year incumbent Ján Slota was defeated, was likely not just a recognition of Slota's performance, but also a decision by residents to stop being a municipal freak in Slovakia.

Mind you, the results have one rub: the less time Slota spends in Žilina, the more time he will have for national politics. Perhaps the most surprising result was the victory of independent Pavol Hagyari in Prešov, and the total failure of Dzurinda's candidate Polačko.

Basically, judging from the results of towns with more than 20,000 residents, the municipal elections did not alter the Slovak political scene.

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