IN MUNICIPAL elections a few votes can often decide who will sit in the mayor’s seat for the next four years and there have been recent elections where a municipal candidate won by a single vote. In areas where vote-buying allegations have appeared in the past, candidates, election officials and police were vigilant for any irregularities on November 27.
Slovak media reported that the Central Election Commission (ÚVK) dealt with nearly 170 complaints, most of them concerning violations of the election moratorium period or citizens complaining that they were not allowed to exercise their right to observe the vote counting. Three allegations of vote-buying that were reported to the ÚVK were forwarded to the General Prosecutor’s Office for further investigation.
Vote-buying claims affected voting at Luník IX in Košice, a residential district housing mainly socially excluded communities, most of them Roma. Luník IX has two election districts, with over 3,300 voters. The incumbent mayor of Lunik IX, Ladislav Šaňa, a candidate of the Roma Initiative of Slovakia (RIS) was defeated by a candidate endorsed by the centre-right Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK).
Suspicions of vote buying at Lunik IX were voiced by an independent candidate for the post of city mayor in Košice, Marek Kažimír, who filed a complaint with the ÚVK.
“Before the elections I was offered [the opportunity] to buy Roma votes but I refused resolutely,” Kažimír said, as quoted by the SITA newswire, which also wrote that a candidates’ code banning such practices was signed by all candidates. “Despite that, someone lowered himself to such practices,” Kažimír charged.
Kažimír also stated that it was not proper that masses of Roma voters were driven to the polling stations in pre-arranged cars to vote. Kažimír had angered many of the residents of the apartment complex during his election campaign by stating that he planned to close it down.
Voting was suspended around noon for about 10 minutes after one voter was seen coming to the polling station with a paper containing detailed voting instructions. Police were summoned to investigate whether the voter had been coerced in any way but after ten minutes the election committee decided that there was no violation of the law and voting resumed.
Media also reported that family clans and loan sharks were active during the balloting at Luník IX. The head of the local election commission, Ladislav Petráš, told the Sme daily that he noticed small groups of loan sharks to whom Luník IX residents owe money standing in front of polling stations trying to influence voters. Petráš asked for police cooperation because of this.
Driving groups of Roma to polling stations was also reported in Kežmarok, a town in eastern Slovakia. The local election commission filed a criminal complaint over their suspicions. A criminal complaint was also filed in Poprad-Matejovce because an unknown man was allegedly attempting to improperly influence voters.
6. Dec 2010 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff