News digest: VW unexpectedly replaces the Slovak who was its chief designer

The latest referendum misfires, schools with top students, and your guide to starting a business in Slovakia.

An old-style Volkswagen Beetle, pictured during a classic car rally in May 2019 in western Slovakia.An old-style Volkswagen Beetle, pictured during a classic car rally in May 2019 in western Slovakia. (Source: TASR - Robert Fritz)

Good evening. Here is the Monday, January 23 edition of Today in Slovakia - the main news of the day in less than five minutes.

Referendum fails, but snap elections may come anyway

Slovakia learnt on Sunday that yet another national referendum had ended up being invalid.

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The referendum, which was held on Saturday but failed to attract much more than one in four voters to the polls, was initiated and supported by several opposition parties, led by Smer. The intention was to enable the regular four-year parliamentary term to be curtailed more easily.

With a turnout of just over 27 per cent, the ninth referendum in modern Slovakia's history attracted the fourth highest number of voters since the first referendum, held in 1994. But with 50-percent turnout required to make the outcome valid, it was ruled a failure.

On a lighter note, a young parrot turned up at one local polling station.

Commentary: Now that the referendum is done, what comes next?

Related: An Ipsos survey carried out for the Denník N daily in the run-up to the referendum suggested that voters of the former coalition of four parties also voted in the referendum. However, this cannot be confirmed as voters did not indicate their support for any political party as part of the referendum.

Other stories from The Slovak Spectator website

  • Law: President Zuzana Čaputová will turn to the Constitutional Court in the matter of Paragraph 363 of the Criminal Code, which allows the chief prosecutor to unilaterally halt prosecutions. According to the president, General Prosecutor Maroš Žilinka has used the clause in way that may interfere with the work of independent courts. He applied the paragraph again last week in the case of an MP accused of corruption.
  • Police: Investigators in Hungary and Slovakia say they have clarified more details concerning the 1999 mass murder of 10 gangsters in south-western Slovakia.
  • Automotive: Volkswagen is reported to have replaced its chief designer, Slovak Jozef Kabaň. He was appointed in 2020.

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What should I do if I want to do business in Slovakia?

The Slovak Spectator brings you an updated version of the most frequently asked questions about obtaining a trade licence and other conditions that foreigners need to meet in order to do business in Slovakia.

You can find other FAQs here.

In a few lines:

  • National Bank of Slovakia Governor Peter Kažimír has withdrawn a complaint that he filed against a corruption charge that he is facing. According to the Sme daily, the former finance minister under the last two Smer governments will try to turn to General Prosecutor Maroš Žilinka to apply Paragraph 363 and ultimately cancel the charge. Žilinka did the same in the same case last year.

  • According to the 2021 Census, 2,007 inhabitants belong to the Jewish religious community in Slovakia. In the same census, 596 inhabitants gave their nationality (a separate census category) as Jewish. In 1930, 72,678 persons held Jewish nationality in Slovakia.

  • A snap election may be held on September 30. Parties from the outgoing coalition agreed on the date over the weekend. Parliament now needs to pass legislation that would allow for an early election, for which 90 votes are required.

  • The Institute for Economic and Social Reforms (INEKO) think tank has published a ranking of primary and secondary schools based on the performance of their students. A primary school in Košice, a vocational school in Poprad, and a grammar school in Bratislava came first in their respective categories. See the rankings.

WEATHER FOR TUESDAY: Clear skies, with clouds and fog in some places at night and in the morning. The daytime temperature will be from 5°C to 10°C, or 0°C to 5°C in places with fog. Light wind. Fog warnings are in place for central and northeastern Slovakia until Tuesday morning.

Thank you for reading The Slovak Spectator.

P.S. If you have suggestions on how this news overview can be improved, you can reach us at

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