On Saturday, 4th of November 2017, a total of 4.4 million voters in the eight regions of Slovakia were eligible to vote for regional parliaments. At the same time, the eight regional presidents were elected by direct election.
The Social Democratic Smer (direction) of the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has suffered a severe setback in the regional elections. According to the preliminary final result, Smer lost four out of six regional presidents. The main loser is extremist leader Marian Kotleba, who lost his post as president of the Banska Bystrica region. Against Kotleba and two other parliamentarians is being investigated for extremism allegations, and steps were taken to ban the party. Worse than for Kotleba it ran for his party. The party moves into two out of eight regional parliaments, with only one representative each. At the national elections a year and a half ago, the party came to eight percent.
With the vote, the Social Democrats have lost their dominant position at the regional level. So far, they had ruled in six out of eight regions, in future only in the western Slovak region of Trencin and the adjacent region of Nitra.
The right-wing extremist “People’s Party – Our Slovakia” (LSNS) is also among the losers in the polls. In the 2013 regional elections, she surprisingly won the post of regional president in Banska Bystrica, the largest region in the country, with low voter turnout. The LSNS was also able to establish itself at the national level and in 2016 also joined the national parliament with 14 mandates.
Kotleba was clearly voted out in Bystrica, he came only to 23 percent of the vote. The non-party entrepreneur Jan Lunter, who had united a common front of democratic forces, outclassed the incumbent by over 20 percentage points. Even in the neighboring region of Nitra, where a success of the LSNS Vice President Milan Uhrik was feared, the revolution failed to appear. Uhrik only got 15 percent of the vote.
The clear winner of the regional election is the right-wing conservative and neo-liberal opposition of Slovakia, who were given little chance of success before the poll. Since the introduction of the eight regional administrative circuits in Slovakia over 16 years ago, it has never ruled more than two regions, now it will be five.
In the Bratislava district, surprisingly, Juraj Droba prevailed over neoliberal and Eurosceptic freedom and solidarity party (SaS). Also, analysts gave him little chance. The favored nonpartisan ex-mayor of the capital, Milan Ftacnik, also supported by the Smer, finally landed only in third place.
Ing. Erika Jurinová becomes the first regional president in Slovakia
Candidates of the opposition “ordinary people” (Olano) won highly in the regions of Zilina and Trnava. Erika Jurinova (Olano, SaS and KDH) defeated Smer vice-president Juraj Blanar in Zilina by 14 percentage points, which will also give Slovakia the first female regional presidency. In Trnava, Olano candidate Jozef Viskupic defeated the joint candidate of the Smer and the nationalist SNS, Tibor Mikuš, by twelve percentage points.
The surprises of the election were the East Slovak circles Presov and Kosice. In Presov, the Christian Democrat mayor Milan Majersky prevailed against nominated by the sumer incumbent Peter Chudik, who had been continuously in office since 2001. Extremely exciting was the counting of votes in the district of Kosice, where the acting mayor of the regional capital Kosice (Kaschau), Richard Rasi (Smer), was eventually beaten by the opposition candidate Rastislav Trnka. Not even 0.6 percentage points.
Surprisingly positive was the unusually high turnout of almost 30 percent, nearly ten percentage points more than in the 2013 regional election.
Many Slovaks are now also aware that the regional administration plays a not insignificant role in their daily lives. This year, a total of 1.25 billion euros is available to the regions as a budget. Among other things, the regions manage a road network of around 14,000 kilometers and decide on the financing of school, health, cultural and social services in their area.
Source: APA (AFP) and www.wikipedia.org