Roma Politicians: Attempts to Sway Roma Voters Rear Up Again

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A Roma settlement in eastern Slovakia. (Stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, November 5 (TASR) – Attempts to sway Roma voters with bribes or threats are surfacing on a daily basis in the run-up to the 2018 municipal election, slated for November 10, non-parliamentary Tolerance and Coexistence Party chair Frantisek Tanko said at a press conference on Monday.

According to Tanko, in some cases Roma voters are incentivised with financial rewards if they cast a vote in favour of a specific candidate and at other times they are even being intimidated with threats. “We have concrete reports from villages in the Presov, Kosice and Banska Bystrica regions. In these cases mayors came up to Roma and told them to vote for them or else they won’t be given jobs as part of activation programmes,” claimed the Roma politician.

Nitra regional party chair Ladislav Nemeth, running for Nitra mayor, added that similar reports abound also in this regional capital. “There are reports of Roma voters being approached and promised this or that in exchange for their votes,” he said.

Therefore, both politicians urged police to ensure close supervision of Saturday’s election, particularly in areas with segregated and poor Roma communities. Tanko announced that the situation in the Presov, Kosice and Banska Bystrica regions will also be monitored by Roma volunteers. “To date, we’ve managed to recruit 28 people,” he added.

Nemeth and Tanko concurred that attempts to influence Roma voters are a recurring phenomenon before every election and attribute this to decades of neglect of problems plaguing marginalised Roma communities and discrimination against them in Slovakia.