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ELECTION 2012: Slovaks begin voting in parliamentary election at 7:00

The eighth democratic election for members of parliament in Slovakia since the fall of communism in 1989 has started. Together 5,956 polling stations opened across the country at 7:00 for the one-day vote. The stations will close at 22:00.

The eighth democratic election for members of parliament in Slovakia since the fall of communism in 1989 has started. Together 5,956 polling stations opened across the country at 7:00 for the one-day vote. The stations will close at 22:00.

First preliminary results of the vote will be available about one hour after the polling stations close on the website of the Slovak Statistics Office and will be updated as vote counts from regional precincts arrive. Relevant preliminary results covering data from over 95 percent of the precincts should be known on Sunday, probably around the noon, the TASR newswire reported. The Slovak Spectator will be updating the election results on its webpage simultaneously with information coming from the Statistics Office.

There are about 4.3 million registered voters eligible to cast ballots in Saturday’s election but the turnout is expected to be low, with estimates around 40 to 50 percent. Another 658 voters with no permanent residence in Slovakia have already sent their ballots by post to a specialised precinct in Bratislava’s Petržalka district, the SITA newswire reported.

Slovak citizens with a permanent residence in Slovakia who are abroad on election day and made a request for a postal ballot are also taking part in the parliamentary election. According to information from Slovenská Pošta, 8,018 people are interested in voting by mail, an increase compared to 2010, when 6,961 Slovaks have asked for the opportunity to cast their vote by mail.

This election will be open to about 90,000 eighteen-year old, first-time voters. According to the Statistics Office, a total of about 128,000 people are first-time voters and will have the opportunity to help decide the composition of the next Slovak parliament, SITA reported.
Twenty-six political parties are fielding more than 2,900 candidates for parliamentary seats in Saturday’s election.

Eighty-five candidates out of the almost 3,000 that were initially included on the slates of the 26 parties running in the parliamentary elections either departed or were withdrawn by the parties’ chairs. One candidate died before the election day. In terms of the number of candidates who cancelled their bids, Ordinary People and Independent Personalities' (OĽaNO) lost 37 candidates, followed by Nora Mojsejová's Free Speech Party (SSS), 12 of whose candidates quit, the TASR newswire reported.

Voters will be informed about withdrawn candidates when they arrive at polling stations. Any preferential votes cast for those candidates will be disregarded.

This year’s election will be monitored by about 40 observers from the Belarusian organisation Belarus Watch, TASR wrote.

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