Calls to halt Slovakia’s EU election campaign raise questions

Calls are growing in Slovakia for political parties to suspend campaigning for the European Union elections, just three weeks away, following the attempted assassination of the prime minister in a deeply polarized country.

Slovakia’s president-elect Peter Pellegrini and others say the move is necessary to prevent further inflammatory political speech, which has further escalated since the shooting that left Prime Minister Robert Fico seriously wounded. At least one party, the opposition Progress Slovakia, said it would immediately suspend its campaign to help “end the spiral of attacks and blame.”

Local media reported that another party, the Christian Democratic Movement, had also stopped its campaign.

It is unclear how long such suspensions would last or what they would mean for Slovakia’s participation in EU elections, which are held every five years. Voters across the European Union will elect 720 representatives to the European Parliament, with elections taking place across the bloc’s 27 members from June 6-9. Slovak voters will cast their votes on June 8.

Candidates in EU elections mostly come from established national parties, so voters tend to be familiar with their agendas. Therefore, a temporary suspension of the campaign would not necessarily affect the ability of Slovak voters to decide who they support, as long as the campaign resumes and the elections are held as planned.

European Parliament and European Commission officials did not respond to requests for comment on the calls to suspend the campaign and whether this could have an impact on the bloc’s vote.

National electoral authorities are responsible for managing the vote and the results are managed locally. The number of members of the European Parliament that each country can elect depends on the size of its population. The largest country, Germany, gets the largest number of legislators: 96 in total. Much smaller Slovakia will elect 15 members of the European Parliament.

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