Apathy threatens elections

A low turnout is expected at forthcoming regional elections due to ôelectoral tirednessö.

Although public administration reform promises a major simplification of peopleĺs everyday contact with local authorities, only about 40% of voters are expected to turn out at polls on December 1.

The first ever elections into eight higher territorial units (V+C) across the country will give elected representatives over 300 competencies transferred from central state authorities to a local level.

Grigorij Mese×nikov, political analyst and head of the Institute for Public Affairs think tank said the turnout in municipal elections in Slovakia was generally lower than in parliamentary elections and thought the expected 40% was partly caused by ôelectoral tirednessö.

ôSince 1998 Slovaks participated in various electoral activities every year,ö the analyst said adding there were parliamentary elections in 1998, presidential elections in 1999, and a referendum in 2000.

ôPeople donĺt think that their problems can be solved by municipal representatives and put bigger hopes in MPs,ö he added.

Milan MuÜka, vice-chair of the Slovak Towns and Villages Association (ZMOS) said the projected low turnout was due to government failure to stage an information campaign on the importance of the reform.

ôThe reform means that Bratislava bureaucrats will no longer make decisions about a hospital in Snina, or an elementary school in Krompachy. ZMOS tried to explain this to people but the government failed in this aspect,ö MuÜka said.

The number of candidates for the posts of heads of V+Cs and members of V+C parliaments (V+C MP) who will serve four year terms is relatively high, 114 and 4,139 respectively.

Eighteen coalitions were created by 46 political parties for the V+C elections. Political analysts said these coalitions might reflect possible partnerships in the upcoming parliamentary elections in September 2002.

Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports

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