SaS Bidder for Regional Councillor Offered Roma Votes for Money

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

Bratislava, November 1 (TASR) – Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) district chairman in Bardejov (Presov region) Milan Vrabel, who is running for the post of regional councillor in Saturday’s elections, was offered votes for money in six Roma settlements in Bardejov district, leading figures from SaS and the Christian Democrats (KDH) announced at a press conference on Wednesday.

The ‘organiser’ who approached Vrabel allegedly promised to secure 2,600 Roma votes for €3 each.

Vrabel, who was present at the press conference along with SaS caucus leader Natalia Blahova and party vice-chairman Lubomir Galko, plus KDH chief Alojz Hlina, said that he reported the issue to the police, who then arrested one person on Tuesday. Nonetheless, more people are believed to be involved.

“They were supposed to make sure by their presence in front of the polling stations that the settlers would keep their word and vote as they were told. Less literate people should have had my number written on their wrists,” said Vrabel, adding that he was assured by the organiser that he has enough experience in this type of business.

Vrabel pointed out that with usual turnouts, only some 3,000 votes are enough for a councillor to be elected in Presov region. “If I had paid, I would have almost certainly been elected as a councillor,” said Vrabel.

Blahova at the press conference said that she was presented with a similar offer for receiving up to 6,000 Roma votes for €2,000 from the area of Humenne (Presov region) before last year’s general election. She informed the police about this, and they told her to continue to obtain more information on the planned mischief.

Meanwhile, two people have already received suspended sentences for vote trafficking.
Hlina, for his part, said at the press conference that vote traffickers in Roma settlements could decide who’ll be elected as governors and mayors in eastern Slovakia. He believes that there’s a need to combat this abuse constantly, while “it isn’t enough to park a police car in a settlement on election day”.