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Slovakia: Election Begins; Future Of Reform At Issue

Bratislava, 25 September 1995 (RFE/RL) - Slovaks have begun voting in a two-day general election that analysts say will determine the immediate future of democratic and economic reform in the country. Opinion polls, conducted in early September, suggest possible advances by the combined opposition over Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's three-party, populist-nationalist government.

But Meciar, who has dominated Slovak politics since before Slovakia won independence in the 1993 break-up of Czechoslovakia, has a record of last-minute political comebacks.

The election campaign has been marred by accusations of media bias and unfair practices benefiting Meciar. Former Slovak President Michal Kovac says he fears that Meciar's ruling party may tamper with poll results. Slovakia has been excluded from early accession talks to the European Union and NATO because of western concern over the Meciar government's record on democracy and human rights.

The voting is being monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Polls are to close at 1400 (Prague time) tomorrow. Preliminary results are due on Sunday.

For more RFE/RL coverage, see Parliamentary Election 1998.