Slovak President vetoes law to end runoff voting for Regional Governors
Slovak President Andrej Kiska has vetoed a law on abolishing runoff elections for the Governors of Regional Administrations. The press department of the Office of the Slovak President informed the Czech News Agency of the veto on 24 February.
The coalition government of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has enough votes in the legislature to overturn the veto, though. According to Kiska, the justification for the proposed changes, which was that runoffs feature low voter turnout and that it would save money to hold just single-round elections, is biased and incomplete.
The Slovak head of state reminded the public that low interest in participation has always accompanied the first round of voting for Regional Governors to date. No candidate has ever received more than 15 % of the total vote during the first round of those elections.
The introduction of single-round voting such that the candidate with the highest number of votes would be declared the winner was adopted by the Slovak Parliament last month. The next Regional Governor elections are scheduled for this November.
According to the runoff rules, a candidate could win election after the first round only by receiving more than half of the votes cast. The adjustment to the electoral rules has been criticized by the opposition, according to whom the innovation might aid extremist candidates and incumbents, six of whom were supported during the 2013 elections by Fico's party, "Direction-Social Democracy" (Směr-SD).
Of course, the existing two-round system most recently aided the current head of the ultra-right "Kotleba-People's Party Our Slovakia" (LSNS), Marian Kotleba, who surprisingly became the Governor of the Banská Bystrica Region four years ago. In the run-off, Kotleba defeated the incumbent Governor for Směr-SD, Vladimíra Maňka, whose first-round victory had been narrow.
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