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Regional elections mobilize only 15 percent of the vote; run-offs planned next week

THE CENTRAL Election Commission estimates that only about 15 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots in regional elections on November 26. Although all votes have not yet been counted, officials do not think the turnout will reach the 20 percent level predicted by several pre-election surveys.

Political scientist Grigorij Mesežnikov told news wire SITA that people simply do not attribute importance to higher territorial unit (VÚC) elections. He said the state should have invested more effort in explaining the significance of the decentralization of the state administration on the election outcomes.

No candidate managed to collect a majority of the vote in any of the eight higher territorial units, which means the two candidates with the most votes in each region will face run-off elections in two weeks.

According to Mesežnikov, the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) was soundly defeated in the regional races.

He said that compared to the 2001 regional race, the HZDS, which historically places second in political popularity surveys, practically disappeared from the political map.

Several HZDS candidates did receive votes and will advance to the second round of elections. Mesežnikov thinks they will have difficulty to win their races, however.

Preliminary elections results:

Bratislava region:
Vladimír Bajan (independent) and Ľubomír Roman (coalition of the SDKÚ, ANO, SMK, DS, Green Party) will compete in a second round.

The coalition of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), the New Citizen’s Alliance (ANO), the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK), the Democratic Party (DS), and the Green Party will have 27 mandates at the local parliament. The coalition of Smer, Free Forum (SF) and the Movement for Democracy (HZD) gained 11 seats; voters also elected two independent candidates.

Trnava region:
Jozef Klokner (Christian Democratic Movement - KDH, SDKÚ, DS) will face Tibor Mikuš, supported by the HZDS.

The 40-member regional parliament will have 15 deputies of the coalition KDH, SDKÚ, and DS and 15 deputies of the SMK. There will be five independent deputies and two for the coalition formed by Smer, HZD, Free Forum, and ANO. The HZDS will have three deputies.

Trenčín region:
Miroslav Chovanec, candidate for the coalition formed by Smer-KDH-Slovak National Party (SNS)-HZD- Free Forum, will face Pavol Sedláček, supported by the HZDS, ANO, Real Slovak National Party and the SNS.

The 45- member regional parliament will have 21 deputies of the coalition Smer, SD, KDH, SNS, HZD, and the Free Forum. The coalition of the HZDS, the ANO, the PSNS and the ZSNS will have 20 deputies. Voters elected three independent deputies and the coalition of the SDKÚ and the DS has one deputy.

Banská Bystrica region:
Milan Murgaš, a nominee of the Smer, SNS, HZD, KDH and Slovak Green Party coalition will encounter Jozef Mikuš backed by the SDKÚ and the DS.

In the new 49-member regional parliament, 18 deputies will sit for the coalition of Smer, SD, SNS and the HZD. The coalition formed by the SDKÚ, KDH and the DS will have nine deputies. The same number of seats will go to the coalition formed by the HZDS, the Communist Party (KSS), the PSNS and the Unified Slovak National Party (ZSNS).

Nitra region:
Incumbent Milan Belica, who runs for a wide coalition formed by the HZDS, the Left Block, KSS, PSNS and SNS, will face the SMK candidate László Szigeti.

In the 52-member regional parliament, 34 mandates will belong to the large coalition of Slovak political parties shaped by the HZDS, SDKU, KDH, Smer and the SNS against the SMK, that will have 17 deputies. One mandate goes to the coalition of the HZD, the Free Forum and the ANO.

Prešov region:
Incumbent Peter Chudik running for the Smer, HZD, SNS coalition advanced to the second round together with Dušan Hruška, the candidate of the centre-right coalition, KDH, SDKÚ and the DS.

The Prešov regional parliament will have 62 deputies and the SDKÚ, KDH, DS coalition will be represented by 40 deputies. Independent deputies won 12 seats and the Smer, HZD, SNS coalition will have nine deputies. The ANO will have one deputy.

Žilina region:
Juraj Blanár, supported by the coalition of Smer, HZD and the SNS, will face Jozef Tarčák, supported by the coalition of HZDS, PSNS and ZSNS.

In the 57-member regional parliament, the centre-right coalition of the KDH, the SDKÚ and the DS will have 31 deputies; the Smer, SNS, ANO, and HZD coalition will have 15, while the HZDS, PSNS and ZSNS coalition will have five. Voters elected five independent deputies and the Civil Conservative Party (OKS) has one deputy.

Košice region:
Zdenko Trebula, backed by a coalition shaped by Smer and the Movement for Democracy (HZD), will face the current county head Rudolf Bauer, who is supported by the KDH and the Civic Conservative Party (OKS).

Distribution of the 57 seats in the regional parliament is as follows: The KDH-OKS coalition gained 13 seats, followed by the left-wing coalition SMER-SD and the HZD with 12 chairs, while the SMK has 13 deputies. The coalition formed by the SDKÚ and the Slovak Green Party will have 6 mandates. The HZDS will have one deputy and ANO and the Party of Slovak Regions will have two deputies each. The Party of Civic Solidarity will have one deputy. Voters also elected seven independent deputies.

Prepared by Beata Balogová from press reports.

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