All eyes on Humenné: The symbol of Smer's decline

The loss of Smer's Jana Vaľová in the mayoral race has become symbolic of the 2018 municipal vote.

Jana VaľováJana Vaľová (Source: TASR)

It is not very common for the mayoral race in a small town in the very east of Slovakia to be one of the most closely observed votes, as was the case of the town of Humenné in the 2018 municipal elections.

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Read also: 5 most significant results of the municipal elections Read more 

In the past, eastern Slovakia was considered the bastion of the ruling Smer party, observers of the Slovak political scene used to say when commenting on the results of all types of elections. Humenné, a municipality with some 30,000 inhabitants, was no exception. In the past eight years, it was ruled by Mayor Jana Vaľová, who also served as an MP for Smer.

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During the recent municipal election campaign, however, some people from the town started speaking up about the atmosphere of fear in the town. Vaľová had her town in a tight grip, more than the Communists did before 1989, said former mayor Vladimír Kostilník in an investigative report by the Zastavme Korupciu (Stop Corruption) foundation.

“Currently, she is the only person deciding on the being and non-being of citizens,” Kostilník, preceded Vaľová in the mayoral post in 1998-2010, said in the report.

Whoever dared to criticise her, got to know her revenge. Many were afraid to speak openly, he added.

“If you want to live in Humenné, you have to obey. If you do not obey, you will not find a job,” said an anonymous citizen in the video reportage.

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