Hundreds Board Trains In Czech Republic To Cast Vote In Slovak Election
The organisers expect almost all seats in both trains to be occupied. Credit: ZM / BD.
Prague, Sept 29 (CTK) – Hundreds of Slovaks, mainly students, set off from Prague on a special free train to Slovakia after 12:30 today to take part in Saturday’s parliamentary elections, and another special train will leave Brno for Bratislava shortly after 7 pm, each with a capacity of 510 seats, according to the organisers.
The organisers expect almost all seats in both trains to be occupied.
The “election trains” have been financed by four non-profit organisations, and are aimed exclusively at increasing voter turnout in Slovakia, said Marek Mach, one of the initiators of the Don’t Lose Your Vote campaign and chairman of the civic association Mladi (The Young).
More than 1,000 people registered through the website volebnyvlak.sk, about 60% of them students, according to data released by the organisers on Thursday. Interest in the train from Prague was slightly higher than the one from Brno, which still has seats available.
“The aim of the initiative is primarily to increase voter turnout,” said Mach. “It is not intended to influence the outcome of the parliamentary elections in any way to the benefit or detriment of any party. Our aim is to ensure that the parliament that will emerge from the elections represents the attitudes of all Slovaks to the greatest extent possible.”
Student Eva, who is entering her first year of university in Prague, said it was a very important vote. “Slovakia needs to move in a more democratic direction. It doesn’t look very rosy at the moment,” she told CTK. When registering for the election train, she found out that the organisers were looking for volunteers, so she signed up to hand out badges to passengers at the station. As for the election itself, she is wavering between two parties.
Petra, who is in the Czech Republic on an internship, said the special train was a good opportunity to cast her ballot. “I take it as a civic duty and I want to express my opinion in this way,” she told CTK. She did not want to reveal her preferred party.
Slovakia does not allow its citizens to vote in parliamentary elections at embassies abroad. Those interested in voting by post from abroad had to register by early August. “Because I did not know I was going to be doing an internship here at that time, I could not apply to vote by post after that. I was glad that this opportunity came up,” said Petra.
In the past, many Slovaks also travelled back from the Czech Republic on election days on regular trains. They often got off in the village of Kuty in western Slovakia, where international trains on the main railway corridor between Prague and Bratislava stop. They then voted with their voter ID cards at the polling station in Kuty.