Sunday

23rd Feb 2020

Turnout up in Slovakia, with pro-EU liberals scoring high

  • Bratislava: Nice weather on Saturday did not help much, Sefcovic said (Photo: Victor van Werkhooven)

EU election turnout has jumped up in Slovakia, where liberals did well on Saturday (25 May). But nationalists also scored highly in Slovakia and Latvia, leaks indicate.

The turnout rate hit 20 percent in Slovakia according to unofficial surveys by the aktuality.sk news website, compared to 13 percent last time around in 2014, 20 percent in 2009, and 17 percent in 2004 when Slovakia joined the EU.

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  • Latvia: Liberals also did well, but far-right came in third place (Photo: IVAN 63)

The latest figure could still see Slovakia keep its unenvied place as the worst in the EU in terms of voter apathy.

The minor turnaround comes after Slovak parliament speaker Andrej Danko and EU commissioner Maros Sefcovic appealed to people to cast their ballots on Saturday morning.

"We should vote by heart for people who won't be lazy to work for Slovakia in Brussels. We're a small nation in terms of population, but a big one in terms of heart and diligence. We have a lot to offer to the European Union," Danko said.

"If we could approach or overcome 20 percent, I would be very happy. Outside it is beautiful [weather], but I'm afraid that it will not affect the result," Sefcovic said.

"It is, of course, smaller than in the recent presidential elections [49 percent], but we see people wanting to participate in the European elections," Jana Stanova, an electoral commission chief in the Devin district, added.

The Czech Republic, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Malta, and the UK have also voted, while most EU countries will vote on Sunday, with official results for all 28 member states due out the same evening.

The CT24 news website estimated that turnout in the Czech Republic would be 20 to 25 percent, compared to 18 percent in 2014.

It increased slightly in the UK, from 36 percent to 38 percent. It also climbed in the Netherlands from 37 percent to 41 percent.

But it dipped in Ireland from 52 percent to 48 percent and in Malta from 75 percent to 71 percent.

The figures come amid steadily falling interest in the European Parliament elections since they began in 1979.

They also come amid fears that a far-right surge in Europe this time around could reshape EU politics, with low turnout tending to favour radical candidates whose voters are often better motivated than mainstream ones.

Liberals do well

That was not the case in Slovakia where the big winner was the liberal and pro-EU Progressive Slovakia (PS) party, however.

The PS, which was formed in 2017 and which also triumphed in Slovak presidential elections earlier this year, came second with 18 percent of the vote, aktuality.sk reported.

The ruling pro-EU and centre-left Smer party came out on top with 19 percent, down five points, and the pro-EU and centre-right KDH party came fourth with 11 percent (down two points).

The Slovak estimates come after pro-EU greens and socialists scored highly in Ireland and the Netherlands.

But nationalist and populist parties also did well in Slovakia.

The far-right People's Party came third with 13 percent - up 11 points.

The more mildly eurosceptic Freedom and Solidarity party, Ordinary People party, and Peasant's Party also made it over the 5 percent threshold to send MEPs to Brussels.

The aktuality.sk leak had a large margin of error, basing its numbers on counting in some 500 out of almost 6,000 electoral districts.

Nationalists come third

Liberals also did well in Latvia, with the Development/For party up nine points to 11 percent in fourth place, according to figures leaked by the skaties.lv news website based on 70 percent of the count.

The pro-EU and centre-left Social Democratic Party gained five points to hit 18 percent in second place.

Nationalist parties are expected to do well in France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Poland on Sunday, posing questions for the future well-being of the EU.

And that trend was also on show in Latvia despite the liberal bump.

The ruling, pro-EU and centre-right New Unity party came first with 26 percent, but lost 20 points compared to 2014.

The far-right National Alliance, which uses neo-Nazi symbols, climbed two points to 16 percent in third place.

The pro-Russia Latvian Russian Union party, the Union of Greens and Farmers, and the mildly eurosceptic Latvian Association of Regions also got over the 5 percent bar.

Meanwhile, a Czech region, the Mirosovice municipality, which published figures on its website on Saturday despite a national ban, was forced to pull its webpage and could face legal sanctions.

"The purpose is to ensure that published election results in one member state do not affect voters in other member states who are still voting," an interior ministry spokeswoman told the idnes.cz news website.

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