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Slovakia: Low Turnout Feared As Polls Close In Vote On EU

Bratislava, 17 May 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The polls have closed in Slovakia in the country's two-day national referendum on joining the European Union. Election officials expressed concern prior to the end of voting this afternoon that the 50 percent voter-turnout threshold needed to make the vote valid had not been crossed.

Yesterday, the first day of voting, only about 25 percent of eligible voters were reported to have cast ballots. Results are expected to be announced tomorrow.

Parliament could ratify Slovakia's entry into the EU in the event that less than 50 percent of voters cast ballots.

In Slovakia's 10 years as an independent country, no referendum has ever gained the required number of voters to be valid.