VOTE: Turnout is forecast to be low

FEWER than three in 10 voters say they will certainly cast their votes in the upcoming municipal elections, according to a recent survey conducted by the Focus polling agency in the first half of October 2010. According to observers, the official election campaign, to be launched on November 10, is also not expected to stir voters’ interest.

FEWER than three in 10 voters say they will certainly cast their votes in the upcoming municipal elections, according to a recent survey conducted by the Focus polling agency in the first half of October 2010. According to observers, the official election campaign, to be launched on November 10, is also not expected to stir voters’ interest.

The results of the Focus poll suggest that while only 28.6 percent of voters are certain to vote in the municipal elections, another 23.9 percent say they are very likely to turn out.

“Based on the previous experience of the Focus agency with predicting election turnout it can be expected that the national average of the actual turnout in the municipal elections will be around 50 percent,” Focus wrote in its comments on the poll results.

At the other end of the scale, 9.5 percent of respondents said they definitely would not vote in the elections.

According to Focus, the results suggest that higher numbers can be expected in towns and villages of up to 5,000 inhabitants, where turnout could exceed 60 percent.

“Generally speaking, the bigger the municipality, the lower the turnout,” the Focus press release stated, adding that in the biggest cities turnout is not expected to exceed 30 percent.



Speaking at a press conference on November 2, Prime Minister Iveta Radičová described poll predictions of low voter turnout as “disturbing”. She appealed to the Central Election Commission’s members to strive to make voter participation as high as possible, the SITA newswire reported.

According to Erik Láštic from the political sciences department of Comenius University in Bratislava, turnout at municipal elections is generally quite stable.

“I believe there is not much sense in looking at the turnout as a whole, but rather focusing on single villages and towns and watching the potential changes in turnout there,” Láštic said in an interview with The Slovak Spectator.

“In contrast to parliamentary elections, independent candidates can run in the municipal elections, plus there is a much higher probability that a voter has had direct contact with the candidates, particularly in the smaller municipalities,” Láštic said.

According to him, for this reason the party preferences of voters are not necessarily the only factor affecting voters’ decisions in municipal elections.

Along with questions about turnout, Focus also inquired about citizens’ satisfaction with the activities of their municipal authorities – local council members and the mayor – over the past four years. Focus reported that the citizens' evaluation of their municipal authorities was considerably worse now than four year ago.

In a similar survey question four years ago, one third of the respondents expressed satisfaction with their local leaders.

This year the proportion of dissatisfied respondents grew by 9 percent compared with 2006, and accounted for 33.6 percent of those participating in the Focus survey.


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