Slovak authorities annul election on racist grounds
12 April 2000
The ERRC has recently received disturbing reports of abuses of Roma political rights in Slovakia. In December 1998, residents of Petrova, a town in northern Slovakia with a population approximately 50% of which is Romani, reportedly elected a Romani man named Marian Billy mayor. Non-Romani residents then gathered signatures on a petition to contest the election. According to ERRC information, the petition was circulated by persons going door-to-door and persuading Roma and non-Roma to sign “so that we will not have a Gypsy for a mayor.” Slovak parliament subsequently annulled the election, and in September 1999, re-elections returned a non-Romani man named Ján Borecký as mayor. In statements made to the ERRC at a conference in November 1999 in Bratislava, members of the Slovak government downplayed the annulment of Mr Billy’s election as mayor as not an issue of racism, and stated that the annulment had taken place due to the low educational achievement of Mr Billy. Roma in Petrova reportedly now doubt their inclusion in the body politic and are fully convinced that they have no say over their own fate in the new Slovakia. The ERRC is currently investigating the possibility of legal action in the case.