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Opposition asks for investigation of alleged vote buying

AFTER voting ended in the regional elections in Slovakia on the evening of November 14, four centre-right opposition members of the Slovak parliament from the Prešov Region requested the government to investigate what they called tampering with votes and vote buying at Roma settlements. They claim that votes were bought in particular in the districts of Sabinov, Vranov nad Topľou, and Prešov, the SITA newswire reported.

AFTER voting ended in the regional elections in Slovakia on the evening of November 14, four centre-right opposition members of the Slovak parliament from the Prešov Region requested the government to investigate what they called tampering with votes and vote buying at Roma settlements. They claim that votes were bought in particular in the districts of Sabinov, Vranov nad Topľou, and Prešov, the SITA newswire reported.

Štefan Kužma of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) party filed the complaint with the Central Election Commission. Kužma maintains that vote manipulation is casting doubt on the democratic character of the elections and in this respect ranks Slovakia among countries such as Afghanistan or some African countries.

“We have numerous reports of vote buying from Prešov Region, where often people made no secret of being paid for their vote,” Kužma told SITA. “Not programmes, but three to five euros decide on who will become the regional head.”

He expressed concerns that the world will be looking at Slovakia in a way similar to how it views developing counties where elections are falsified.

According to unofficial findings by the opposition deputies, election turnout in
some Roma settlements was 60 percent to 70 percent, while the overall voter turnout was just above twenty percent, SITA wrote.

Jozef Kislík of the Election Committee of the Prešov Region told the ČTK newswire that some Roma citizens in the region came to the polls with their elections ballots already filled in and then returned with blank ballots to instruct others how to vote. It is alleged they got money for voting for a particular candidate.

“We are investigating the purchase of votes, but so far nothing has been confirmed,” ČTK was told by Viktor Plézel of the Police Presidium, who added that 2,000 police officers oversaw the course of the elections.

Throughout election day, the Central Election Committee (ÚVK) resolved several complaints in connection with potential breach of the election moratorium, the Smer.sk website wrote.

The commission sent a complaint to the prosecution in case of pre-election leaflets in Humenné that were distributed by candidates despite the election moratorium, which started two days before the elections. A complaint pertaining to an interview of one of the candidates in the Žilina Region on a private radio station was forwarded by the committee to the Council for Broadcast and Re-transmission.

In the municipalities of Ostrovany and Jarovnice in the Sabinov district, the Prešov election committee investigated complaints about a mass of voters being driven to the polls in buses and trucks and their votes being bought.

“Members of our committee in Ostrovany managed to find two blank ballots, voluntarily handed over by voters coming out of the election rooms,” Jozef Kislík of the election committee said. “Roma voters intended to bring them to the settlement. Very probably, these ballots would be returned by other Roma with names already circled. In this way, the elections are rigged.”

After election committee members arrived in Ostrovany, they discovered that someone had probably warned the inhabitants, as they had stopped voting.

“As far as we know, the amount was around five euros per ballot,” Kislík told the Korzár newspaper.

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