THREE of the eight self-governing regions, known by Slovaks under the acronym VÚCs have elected their leaders in the first round of regional elections held on November 9: Incumbent Peter Chudík, supported by Smer, Our Region and the Party of Modern Slovakia, won the Prešov race and Smer-backed incumbent Juraj Blanár has secured his position in Žilina. Trenčín went to Smer candidate Jaroslav Baška, according to the official results announced by the Central Elections Commission on November 10.
In the remaining five regions, Bratislava, Banská Bystrica, Košice, Nitra and Trnava, the two top candidates will compete in second round elections, to be held on November 23. In four of the five regions, Smer-supported candidates won the first round.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was quick to announce his Smer party as the victor of the VÚC elections.
“We have three winners at the level of regional governors in the first round and an additional four victors, who in all likelihood will win the second round,” Fico said, as quoted by the TASR newswire on November 10.
Fico added that based on the preliminary results, Smer should have a majority in the regional councils of six VÚCs.
“These are all numbers, which tell that no one can doubt the victory of Smer in these elections,” Fico said.
In the first round of regional elections, 20.11 percent of 4,463,039 eligible voters cast their ballots with Banská Bystrica Region posting the highest turnout at 24.6 percent, followed by Prešov Region with 22.1 percent. The lowest turnout was in Trenčín Region at 17.4 percent and Trnava Region at 17.5 percent.
In the second round in Bratislava Region, the joint candidate of the centre-right parties, Pavol Frešo, backed by the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), Most-Híd, the Party of Hungarian Community (SMK), Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), Civic Conservative Party (OKS) and the Green Party, collected 48.8 percent and will go up against Smer candidate Monika Flašíková-Beňová.
In Banská Bystrica Region Vladimír Maňka, backed by Smer, KDH, SMK, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), Movement for Democracy and the Green Party, garnered 49.5 percent, and will face Marian Kotleba of People’s Party – Our Slovakia (ĽSNS) who picked up 21.3 percent.
Zdenko Trebuľa, supported by Smer, Most-Híd and SMK, won the first round in Košice Region with 48.6 percent, and will face Rudolf Bauer, backed by the Conservative Democrats of Slovakia (KDS), who got 24.5 percent in the second round.
Nitra Region will see a second round run-off between Milan Belica of Smer, SNS and the Agrarian Party of the Countryside, who picked up 46.9 percent, and Tomáš Galbavý, the joint candidate of the SDKÚ, Most-Híd, NOVA, OKS, SaS and SMK, who collected 37.3 percent.
In Trnava Region, Tibor Mikuš, backed by Smer, SNS and KSS, took 40 percent and will face József Berényi, supported by SMK and OKS, who picked up 18.3 percent of the vote, according to the unofficial results.
There were 65 candidates bidding for the position of regional president – also referred to as governor – of the eight self-governing regions.
Smer won only a single vote in the Bratislava regional parliament, with Frešo commenting for the TA3 news television programme that if the right-wing is unified it can serve as an alternative to the left-wing parties, suggesting that it could even be successful in Nitra and Košice.
Extremist has made it to the second round in Banská Bystrica
The prime minister also commented on the Banská Bystrica Region results, where Smer nominee Vladimír Maňka failed to get re-elected in the first round and will face the controversial Marian Kotleba in the second round.
“Vladimír Maňka is the clear winner and the question is not why he did not win by a half percent more, but why Mr Kaník was defeated by an extremist,” Fico asked, as quoted by TASR.
The fact that the extremist leader Kotleba has made it to the second round has been viewed as one of the biggest and most controversial surprises of the regional election results. Originally, observers had expected that Ľudovít Kaník, supported by the SDKÚ, Most-Híd and SaS, would be the most serious challenger to Maňka. Yet, he collected only 15.1 percent of the vote.
Fico however claimed that “we [Smer] have not been defeated by leftist extremism”, suggesting that the right wing was supported by right-wing extremism and that a problem in the right-wing political spectrum has allowed people like Kotleba to defeat standard parties, as reported by the Sme daily.
Yet, Kaník said that the victor of the Banská Bystrica race is Kotleba, adding that “unhappy voters are escaping to a dead-end”, according to Sme.
As for the number of mandates obtained in the elections, Smer was the most successful with its 118 elected deputies, followed by the 73 independent candidates. The most successful coalition in the election of deputies to regional parliaments is the Smer-KDH coalition, which now has 57 candidates elected. The SMK will have 34 deputies as well as the KDH, Most-Híd, SDKÚ coalition, and the wide right-wing coalition of the KDH, Most-Híd, OKS, SaS, the SDKÚ, SMK and Green Party, SITA newswire reported.
According to Sme’s calculations, Smer will have 162 deputies out of a total of 408 elected regional parliamentary deputies, which is a 39.7 percent share.
In Bratislava Region, the coalition of the SDKÚ, the KDH, Most-Híd, SMK, SaS, OKS and the Green Party, will have 34 deputies while Smer will have a single deputy.
In Banská Bystrica, the coalition of Smer and the KDH will have 25 deputies, while independent candidates will hold 13 seats; in Trenčín Smer will have 25 deputies while the coalition of the KDH, the SDKÚ, Most-Híd, Nova, SaS and OKS will have eight.
In Žilina, Smer obtained 19 seats while the KDH, Most-Híd, SaS and SDKÚ coalition will have 16, the same number picked up by independent candidates. In Trnava, Smer will hold 12 seats while SMK will hold 11 and the KDH-SDKÚ coalition will have seven. In Košice, Smer will hold 26 seats and the coalition of the KDH, Most-Híd and the SDKÚ will have 15. Independent candidates will have 11 seats.
Smer will have 35 deputies in Prešov, leaving 19 seats to the KDH, SDKÚ and Most-Híd coalition and six seats to independent candidates. Nitra will have 32 deputies supported by Smer and the KDH and 14 supported by SMK, with the coalition of Most-Híd, Nova, OKS, SaS and the SDKÚ having only three.
Independent candidates will hold 73 seats, 17.89 percent, the Statistics Office reported.