Local elections guide for foreigners: Episode 2

Economics and politics

Local elections guide for foreigners: Episode 2

02. 10. 2018 15:09

On November the 10th, local elections are to be held in Slovakia and foreigners who are older than 18 and have permanent residency in Slovakia can vote too. Last week in the first episode of our election guide for foreigners we explained what the voting procedure is. Today we take a look at what competencies mayors and local councils have and the biggest issues of concern sent to us by foreigners living in Bratislava. And of course what mayoral candidates in Bratislava plan to do in this respect.

But first what is the job description of a mayor?

To run the city properly in cooperation with the local council. The easiest way to explain it is that for the city, the mayor is like a prime minister and the local council is like the parliament. The local council has to vote on the local budget, approve or reject various transactions with assets belonging to the city and a very important duty: to decide on the land plan. It has 45 members elected directly by the city's inhabitants. Both the local MPs and the mayor have a 4 year mandate.

Now, we have decided to collect from our listeners living in Bratislava a list of topics they are interested in when it comes to life in Slovakia's capital city, where most foreigners live, and we see what the mayoral candidates have to offer in this respect. We have taken a look at their electoral programmes and attended a handful of debates with the candidates. So what is the first topic of interest?

It may not come as a surprise- it's cycling, both as a means of transportation and for recreational purposes.

The topic of biking paths is on all candidates' agendas but at various levels. The incumbent mayor Ivo Nesrovnal, a lawyer by profession, is proud of the newly introduced bike sharing system- those yellow bikes- and says that City Hall has made progress in solving the issues with land ownership in regards to plots on which new biking paths will be build. He points to the fact that ten biking paths are at various level of planning and construction at the moment and a total of half million euro has been allocated in maintaining and building biking paths in Bratislava this year.

But three of his competitors do not seem impressed. Matúš Vallo, an architect by profession, says that biking paths should not only be for recreational purposes, but a well defined lane used daily for people to go to work and school. And that lane is not just something painted on the road and ignored by drivers but a well defined lane built separately. In Vallo's opinion building the biking path that connects the Ružinov borough with the rest of the city from Zahradnicka street is crucial. He promises to build 25km of new paths by 2022.

Ján Mrva, who is currently the mayor of the Bratislava borough of Vajnory and geodet and a cartographer by profession, also thinks that biking paths must be for daily use for people to go to work and should be delimited from both traffic on the road and pedestrians on the pavement. He promises to build 30km of new biking paths if elected mayor of Bratislava. He also wants to build charging stations for electric bikes and develop the bike sharing network further.

Vaclav Mika, the former general manager of Slovak public radio and television and an economist by training, wants to have a mediator working for city hall who would help solve the issue with landowners on whose plots biking paths could be built. He also wants to build biking paths clearly delimited from road traffic and pedestrians for which he would use funds from the European Union.

Iveta Plšeková, Bratislava's current deputy mayor and a GP by profession, also wants to build biking paths, namely in the borough of Karlova Ves, in the area of Sihot island, and to connect Zahorska Bystrica to Lamac. All in all she promises 25km of new biking paths per year.

Jaroslav Brada, a lawyer, Roman Ruhig, an entrepreneur, and Miroslav Vetrík, a teacher, also promise to build safe biking paths but do not offer additional details.

We could not find what the plans are from the candidates Viktor Bereš and Andrej Trnovec when it comes to cycling in Bratislava.

Anca Dragu, Photo: TASR

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