Recent polls suggest Slovakia's center-right coalition, already on the verge of collapse, will face defeat in parliamentary elections Saturday. The center-left Smer-Social Democracy is expected to win in a landslide.
Slovakians cast their votes Saturday in an early parliamentary election that is expected to upset the governing center-right coalition, which has seen its support plummet amid corruption allegations.
The polls opened early Saturday morning for the Eastern European nation's 4.3 million registered voters, who will elect the 150-member parliament from among 2,900 candidates from 26 different parties. Voting ends Saturday evening, with results expected early on Sunday. Turnout is expected to be around 50 percent.
Former Prime Minister Robert Fico's center-left Smer-Social Democracy is slated to win the election with a landslide 39 percent of the vote, according to a poll released by the Bratislava-based Focus agency. That would give his party 75 seats in parliament, just one short of a majority.
Conservatives face defeat
The governing center-right coalition has virtually collapsed, with incumbent Prime Minister Iveta Radicova's SDKU party expected to plummet from its 2010 election result of 15 percent to just 5 percent, barley above the minimum required to have representation in parliament.
The SDKU's former coalition partners, the ethnic-Hungarian party Most-Hid and the liberal euro-skeptic Freedom and Solidarity Party (SaS), could fail to enter parliament altogether.
The Christian Democrats, currently partnered with SDKU, are tipped to win 10 percent of the vote and are likely to enter a coalition with Fico's Smer-Social Democracy.
The early elections come as a consequence of Radicova's October 2011 decision that tied Slovakia's passage of Europe's temporary bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), to a confidence vote. The prime minister lost the confidence vote, although the EFSF was passed by parliament.
Radicova's coalition has also been hard hit by corruption scandal that came to light in December 2011, which implicates several officials in her government, including Foreign Minister Mikulas Dzurinda. Wiretaps of top politicians by Slovakia's intelligence service leaked onto the Internet, revealing that company executives had bribed the officials to secure privatization deals and tender contracts.
Polls show that the scandal has benefited newly formed parties, including the Common People party and the 99 Percent Movement, which borrowed its name from Occupy Wall Street.
slk/sb (AFP, dpa)