NEWS IN SHORT

Cluster of elections to take place next year

SLOVAKS may have to go to the polls as many as five times next year to vote for president, representatives to the European Parliament, and MPs in regional governments.

SLOVAKS may have to go to the polls as many as five times next year to vote for president, representatives to the European Parliament, and MPs in regional governments.

The Sme daily has estimated the cost at Sk800 million. (€26.4 million)
The turnout at the last vote for MEPs in Slovakia was only 16.96 percent, the lowest in the entire European Union.

Therefore, Anna Belousovová, the deputy chair of the Slovak National Party (SNS), had proposed placing the vote for MEPs and regional elections on the same day. And Monika Flašíková Beňová, MEP for Smer, had proposed the same for the MEP and presidential election.

But coalition and opposition parties have said legislative barriers exist, so the country will likely have to hold each vote separately.

The biggest hurdle is the elections' different dates. The EU set the date of the MEP elections in June and Slovakia cannot move it. The first round of the presidential elections will take place in April and the regional elections are at the end of the year. Therefore, holding the vote for MEPs on the same day as the presidential election would require extending President Ivan Gašparovič's current term.

Ivan Dianiška, the head of the Focus polling agency, has said that holding some of the elections together might boost attendance, especially any held with the vote for president.

"It might be no different than previous years," Dianiška told the daily. "The presidential elections will be the priority, while the regional elections and vote for MEPs will be somewhere in the background."

But adoption of the European single currency as of January 1, 2009, and MEPs elections might boost people's interest in regional elections, Dianiška said.

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