Local elections guide for foreigners: Episode 4

Economics and politics

Local elections guide for foreigners: Episode 4

15. 10. 2018 13:53

On the 10th of November, local elections are to be held in Slovakia, and foreigners who are older than 18 and have permanent residency in Slovakia can vote too. In the past three weeks we have brought you information on how to cast your ballot and what the plans of Bratislava's mayoral candidates are. You can find it on our webpage www.rsi.sk in the Politics section. Local activists have been criticizing the way Bratislava has been losing part of its greenery to apartment and office buildings. Some speak about developers' attempts to privatize public spaces. Others say Bratislava needs more dwellings and the real problem it faces is the shortage of affordable housing including municipal owned flats that can be rented to those in need at a lower rent than what the commercial market offers. So what are the plans of mayoral candidates when it comes to greenery and real estate development in the city?

The incumbent mayor Ivo Nesrovnal, a lawyer by profession, wants to protect the forests which are officially on Bratislava's territory and around it by declaring them national parks, thus reducing the amount of wood that can be commercially exploited from there. If re-elected, he plans to continue with the reconstruction works on public squares such as Namestie Slobody and public parks. He wants to reduce the number of building supervisory offices from the existing 15 to only four, which will be better staffed, less bureaucratic and stronger. Better controls on how real estate developers respect land plans will be put in place. As mayor, Nesrovnal has had to deal with accusations from part of the local council and local activists that he is too close to developers. For example they accused him of failing to protect the PKO building, very popular among locals, which was taken over by a private company and demolished. Last year a group of local MPs felt that the mayor was ignoring their critical stand on granting the status of "strategic investment" to projects by two big developers. In the end, the developers withdrew their application.

Matúš Vallo, an architect by profession, wants to make the process of granting building permits more transparent and fair for both real estate developers and the city. He plans to set up the Bratislava Metropolitan Institute which will be the city hall's organisation in charge of urbanism, architecture, development, able to translate the results of the public debates into strategies and plans and monitor their fulfilment. Building council flats will be on this institute agenda's too. Vallo wants to set up an ombudsman's office to deal with the complaints of inhabitants who are negatively affected by real estate projects in their vicinity. When it comes to greenery, he promises to have 10,000 trees and shrubs planted in Bratislava and create three new city alleyways. Bratislava's parks should be better taken care of, too.

Ján Mrva, who is currently the mayor of the Bratislava borough of Vajnory and a surveyor and cartographer by profession, wants to increase the role of the office of the city's main architect and introduce stricter regulations when it comes to high rises and what he calls "visual smog" in the city, meaning mainly advertising billboards. Land planning and granting building permits to real estate developers should become a transparent process. Mrva wants to build council flats for young families. He promises to plant 1,500 new trees in Bratislava, to provide more protection for the city parks and the green areas and support environment friendly projects.

Vaclav Mika, the former general manager of Slovak public radio and television and an economist by training, plans to set up the City's Institute for Strategic Development which will gather under one roof data analysts and experts on urban planning. Mika wants a strong land plan which will be the main guide for Bratislava's development. Put into an easy to understand format it will be publicly available to everybody. Bureaucracy linked to building permits should be reduced. Mika wants to preserve the historical panorama of the city centre. Building council flats is on his agenda too. When it comes to greenery Mika wants to protect the forests in Bratislava by declaring them a national park, take care of parks and greenery in the city. He plans to support green projects by reducing the local property tax for environmentally friendly buildings.

Iveta Plšeková, Bratislava's current deputy mayor and a GP by profession, wants to create a Central park around Chorvatsky canal in Petržalka and build smaller parks in various parts of the city. She plans to fight the dense construction in the borough of Dubravka and around the old airport in Vajnory. Council flats and new cheap flats for young families are on her agenda as well. The welfare of the animals from Bratislava ZOO deserves special attention from the candidate. She wants to create an emergency station for injured wild animals (eg, swans coming to lakes and ponds in the city) and a pet cemetery.

Building 2,000 council flatsover four yearsis a top priority forentrepreneur Viktor Bereš. They will be divided in three categories: lower standard, medium standard and luxury council flats. He wants to increase the administrative fees for real estate developers and limit their influence at the city hall. In terms of greenery Bratislava's communist panel buildings will get vertical green gardens if he becomes mayor.

Miroslav Vetrík, a teacher, wants to strengthen the city hall to protect the interests of the city's inhabitants and set up a building company owned by the city which will take care of building council flats. He promises to plant new trees, protect the vineyards against real estate developers and support building "green roofs"

Roman Ruhig, an entrepreneur, wants inhabitants to have a bigger say in the development of their city. He wants stricter regulations for real estate projects and limit the transformation of vineyards into construction land. He promises to protect city parks and plant new trees.

Jaroslav Brada, a lawyer, wants to build council flats and introduce more transparency in managing the city's property.

We could not find what candidate Andrej Trnovec's plans are on the topic discussed today.

Anca Dragu, Photo: TASR

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