Brussels might be too far away for Slovaks to see the importance of the EP
Officials are concerned that Slovak voters might be too worn out by the campaigns they have been exposed to over the past couple of months to really care about this next set of elections.
Though it has proven a European trend for EP elections to have a lower turnout than those for national parliaments, observers worry that less than 40 percent of Slovak citizens will consider the elections important enough to participate.
While polls in February estimated the EP elections turnout at 31.6 percent, a recent survey by the Median agency showed that only 29 percent of Slovaks were planning to vote.
"Turnout under 50 percent would not be enough," said Azelio Fulmini, the head of the European Parliament Office in Slovakia in an interview with The Slovak Spectator.
According to the Central Election Committee in Slovakia, 188 candidates nominated by 17 political groups or coalitions will compete for the 14 MEP posts. The MEPs are elected for a five-year term.
However, one of the most featured topics in the Slovak media concerning the elections to the EP was the salary of its members. Observers suggest that this one-sided coverage might have an impact on the turnout.
On May 12, Slovak MPs moved to the second reading of legislation pertaining to the EP elections. It contains a provision on the incompatibility of the mandate of a Slovak parliamentary deputy with that of a Euro-deputy, the news wire SITA wrote.
The draft gives the Slovak Constitutional Court the power to examine complaints regarding the legality of EP elections.
The Christian Democratic Movement has called for legislation obliging the cabinet to follow certain procedures during negotiations with EU institutions. However, the draft currently under discussion does not include such a provision.
According to recent polls, the opposition party Smer could take 26 percent in the elections while the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, another opposition party, would gain 24 percent. The ruling Slovak Democratic and Christian Union would rank third with 14 percent of the vote.
The Slovak Ministry of Labour has proposed that Slovak MEPs be paid twice as much as their colleagues in the national parliament, which is Sk86,400 (€2,150) a month.
17. May 2004 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová