Calls to Pause Slovakia’s E.U. Election Campaigning Raise Questions

Calls are growing in Slovakia for political parties to suspend campaigning for the European Union elections, just three weeks away, in the wake of the assassination attempt on the prime minister in the sharply polarized country.

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

The local news media reported that another party, the Christian Democratic Movement, had also paused campaigning.

It is not clear how long such suspensions would last or what that would mean for Slovakia’s participation in the E.U. elections, which happen every five years. Voters across the European Union will elect 720 European Parliament representatives, with polling scheduled to take place in all 27 of the bloc’s members from June 6 to 9. Slovak voters are set to cast their ballots on June 8.

Candidates for E.U. elections come mostly from established national parties, so voters tend to be familiar with their agendas. A temporary suspension in campaigning would therefore not necessarily affect Slovakian voters’ ability to decide whom they support, provided that campaigning does resume and that elections are held as planned.

Officials at the European Parliament and the European Commission did not respond to requests for comment on the calls to suspend campaigning and whether it could have an impact on the bloc’s voting.

National electoral authorities are responsible for handling the voting, and the results are managed locally. The number of members of the European Parliament each country gets to elect depends on the country’s population size. The largest, Germany, gets the most lawmakers — 96 in total. Slovakia, significantly smaller, will elect 15 members of the European Parliament.

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