BRATISLAVA HAS CHANGED ITS POLITICAL ORIENTATION AFTER TWO DECADES

VOTE: Municipal elections confirm Smer’s strength

SHORTLY after the preliminary results showed that the centre-right candidate Magdaléna Vašáryová had lost in the mayoral race in the Slovak capital, her party leader Mikuláš Dzurinda, of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), admitted the failure of his party to the media.

SHORTLY after the preliminary results showed that the centre-right candidate Magdaléna Vašáryová had lost in the mayoral race in the Slovak capital, her party leader Mikuláš Dzurinda, of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), admitted the failure of his party to the media.

“I see the municipal elections 2010 as a defeat,” Dzurinda said, adding that leftist parties were much more successful than the centre-right parties in the race.

Robert Fico, the leader of the opposition party Smer, has said that the mobilisation of the voters was successful since they perceived the outcome of parliamentary elections, which gave birth to a centre-to-right government as unjust.

“We have significantly strengthened our position on the level of villages and towns in Slovakia,” Fico told the news television channel TA3.


Races in the regional capitals


Results of mayoral races in the eight regional capitals have also provided a reason for Smer to celebrate especially since Slovakia’s two largest cities, Košice and Bratislava, went to Robert Fico’s party’s favourites.

In Bratislava voters gave their trust to someone other than a centre-right candidate for the first time; electing Milan Ftáčnik, who ran as an independent candidate with the support of Smer.

Inhabitants of Košice will see their incumbent mayor, František Knapík, leaving after being defeated by the former health minister Richard Raši of Smer, who also had the support of Most-Híd.

Centre-right parties also lost their positions in Žilina; the incumbent mayor Ivan Harman will be replaced by Smer’s Igor Choma, the former head of the National Highway Company (NDS).

Trenčín residents elected Richard Rybníček, the former director of the public-service STV, who initially ran as an independent candidate. In the last moment before the elections however Smer decided to officially support him.

The only city that has confirmed its centre-right orientation was Trnava, which again elected a candidate of the Christian-Democratic Movement (KDH), Vladimír Butko. Butko previously served as the city’s deputy mayor under Štefan Bošnák of the KDH, who decided to no longer run for the post and instead supported Butko in the race.

Two regional capitals keep their incumbent mayors in post after the elections. Jozef Dvonč will stay in the mayoral seat in Nitra, supported by a wide coalition of Smer, KDH, Slovak National Party (SNS) and the Greens, and so will the independent candidate in Prešov, Pavel Hagyari.

Fico has already bragged on the TA3 news channel that Smer will in fact fill 960 posts of village mayors and 74 mayoral posts in cities.


Turnout


The overall turnout in the municipal elections was almost 50 percent, as previously forecast by polling agencies. The turnout, although low, was praised by observers and politicians, since expectations concerning people’s willingness to cast their votes have been pessimistic.

The national average, however, does not say much about the grave differences between turnouts in smaller villages and in bigger cities. It is no rarity to see a turnout of around 80 percent in small villages with a few hundred inhabitants, while in bigger cities it wasn’t even half of that – in the capital, for instance, the turnout reached 33 percent, while in Trnava only some 29 percent of voters turned out.

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