Slovak high school voters would send extremists to the EP
Although Slovak voters are yet to elect 13 MEPs to the 751-strong EU Parliament this Saturday (24 May), high school students have already expressed their preferences.
In recent mock elections, almost eleven percent of their votes – translating into three parliamentary seats – were for the far-right Our Slovakia party.
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While these are neither representative results, nor an indicator of the actual upcoming vote, they reveal how the next generation of voters perceives Slovakia, says the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) who organised the mock vote.
Sixty-two secondary schools took part in the project, with the turnout standing at 46 percent – way above what is typical for EU votes in the country.
The most surprising finding was that the far-right extremists secured three MEPs (as did the ruling social democrats, Smer-SD), with Martin Kotleba, a candidate on the Our Slovakia party list, gaining the most preferential votes. The candidate's name is very similar to his party leader, Marian Kotleba.
The ruling social democrats as well as the main opposition parties should take this preference for the surname Kotleba seriously, said IVO's Zora Butorova.
"This means that mainstream parties are unable to find satisfactory answers to young people's problems."
Vladimir Bilcik, Head of European Studies at the Research Centre of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association, said the emergence of extremist views has been "underestimated" in Slovakia.
He says that mainstream parties should pay more attention to issues such as migration and the Roma minority.
"The problem is that several mainstream parties fight for their political survival, and a ruling party could lose some of its popularity by addressing these topics. It is a short-sighted approach, however."
The latest poll by Focus agency shows that the ruling Social Democrats (Smer-SD) will win the elections with 37 percent, translating into seven seats.
Six more Slovak parties are set to make it into the EP, each gaining one seat. Among them, the Christian Democrats (KDH) are slated to gain the most votes (around 9 percent), with the eurosceptic Freedom and Solidarity Party (SAS) rounding off the list with 5.1 percent of votes.
Turnout is once more set to be extremely low: between 16-21 percent of voters are expected to go to the urns. In 2009, 19.6 percent of Slovaks voted; five years prior to that it was 16.9 percent.