Emails with breaking news
Receive notifications of breaking news and special reports. The news and messages that are important were delivered on weekday mornings.
by Saphora Smith
TRNAVA, Slovakia – Slovakia is dealing with a special kind of apathy.
Only 30 years after the Velvet Revolution, communist rule ended and democracy was not increased until 1 During the last elections to the European Parliament, 8 voters made their voices heard.
With around 373 million people across the continent preparing to retake ballots Thursday, the question of why Slovaks do not strive to exercise this right is a mystery to some in this inland.
"I remember living 20 years ago," said 35-year-old Jano Zitnansky, who works in information technology. "My family was poor and she is not – but people have short memories.
Peter Martini, 68, a former military driver who was stationed near the border between Austria and then Czechoslovakia.
"I appreciate that I have a choice now – there was only one party in communism." [HoweversincejoiningtheEuropeanUnionin2004SlovakiahasconsistentlyhadthelowestvoterturnoutastheblocchoselawmakersinitsparliamentwhichsharesthetimebetweenBrusselsBelgiumandBelgiumStrasbourgFrance
Only 13.05 Percent voted during the last EU elections in 2014. In all 28 countries, the average turnout was 42.61 percent. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece and Luxembourg are required to vote.
Only 6 percent of 18-24 year olds voted at that time – compared to 28 percent across the EU.
"It's terrible, I know, but I'm one of them," said 20-year-old Jakub Švajka Švajka, saying he was not interested in European politics and not was going to vote this week.
Around 61 percent in the US According to the Census Bureau, 53 percent of voters have voted in the 2016 presidential elections.
A hard battle
It's people like Švajka who EU officials hope to win.  A Nationwide Campaign to Encourage Slovaks, One With the second vote, 17 cities across the country attended by around 5.4 million people.
"My goal is to double the turnout to around 25 percent," said Ladislav Miko, head of the European Commission's representation in Slovakia. "People laugh, they do not believe it's possible."
But in the small historic town of Trnava, north-east of Bratislava, only a handful of robust locals defy the unforeseen, biting winds to attend an electoral event.  Most of those who appeared on the "European Roadshow" said they had already decided to vote in the parliamentary elections – not the target audience of the event.
"In Slovakia people think about it, my village, my garden My home, that's it really. They do not think about the European elections, "said Lucia Valentovičová, who was walking along a main street with her daughter and sister, and decided not to attend.
Later in an indoor discussion on the elections and what the EU In Slovakia, eight elderly people nodded as officials ticked off the benefits of the country's membership in the bloc.
"Usually it's not that bad," Miko said, explaining that in other cities, if the weather was good, she could have up to 1,000 subscribers.
The blame game
Some Slovaks complain that the EU feels isolated and has little influence on their daily lives. Others accused legislators of being interested in the problems in Slovakia and not worried.
54-year-old civil servant Jana Čaklošova is not planning a vote.
"The politicians do not work for Slovaks. They just sit in Brussels and make money, "she said of a Starbucks in Bratislava.
Candidates and political parties admit that elections to the European Parliament have traditionally not been a priority, and locals said the only giveaway That triggered an election was a burst of billboards along the main roads.
"Simply put, politicians and political parties since we joined the European Union in 2004 largely ignored this election," said Vladimír Bilčík, a candidate on the list of a coalition of the Progressive Slovak Party and the Party Together – Civil Democracy by Zuzana Čaputová  08] "What we are doing differently this time is that we have many personal campaigns," he said. "
Iveta Radičová, former Prime Minister of Slovakia, told NBC News that many voters said there was little reason to vote in the European elections.
"Nothing will change … what can 13 MPs do in Parliament? Nothing," she stressed, stressing that her country has only a small fraction of MPs 751 seats.
Radičová said she was not enthusiastic about the campaign and probably will not vote.
The majority of Slovaks say they feel "very" or "fairly" attached to the European Union, according to European Commission statistics. However, on the streets of Bratislava and Trnava, many said that the Central and Eastern Europeans would be considered second-class citizens by people living elsewhere in the block. Others expressed complaints about differences in living standards in the EU
. The average gross annual income of full-time employees in industry and services was 42,900 euros in Germany in 2011 and 45,793 euros in the Netherlands compared to 10,788 euros in the previous year, according to the latest official figures.
Others pointed to the government's alleged corruption as a contributing factor to Slovakia's national psyche. According to a report by the Berlin-based charity Transparency International, the country has a global reputation for perceived corruption in the public sector in 26 out of 31 European countries.
"Everyone knows if you have an E.U. To make money, you have to bribe someone, "said the fishmonger Patrik Sirotka, explaining why it makes no sense to vote." It's only in the bag, "he added, referring to the Slovak legislators.
The crisis of confidence in Slovak politics reached its peak When the investigative journalist Ján Kuciak was shot dead last year together with his fiance Martina Kušnírová, the murder triggered tens of thousands of protests and the subsequent collapse of the Slovak government
"After the murder of Ján and Martina, Slovakia woke up and lost d people have started to become more interested in politics, "he said. "They watched what happened, they came to the protests and talked politics."
The polarized electoral field and the rise of the anti-establishment and extreme right-wing People's Party Our Slovakia, which some polls predict will win so much 12 percent of the vote could also play a role in raising interest.
"There are two parts of Slovak society and both are looking for change," said Olga Gyárfášová of Comenius University, pointing to a European Union surveys revealed that 20 percent of Slovaks said they would "very likely" to vote in the upcoming elections.
"It's still very low compared to other countries, but under Slovak conditions, voter turnout would increase significantly," she added.