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Slovaks Vote In General Elections

A child puts a vote in a ballot box during a general election in Bratislava, Slovakia, Saturday, March 10, 2012.
A child puts a vote in a ballot box during a general election in Bratislava, Slovakia, Saturday, March 10, 2012.

Slovakia is holding general elections Saturday, with former Prime Minister Robert Fico expected to emerge as winner.

The most recent opinion polls showed Mr. Fico's Smer-Social Democrats well ahead of the center-right SDKU party, led by outgoing Prime Minister Iveta Radicova. Mr. Fico declined to make any predictions as he cast his ballot Saturday.

"There is a real threat that a coalition of five or six parties might be created.  And that is the reason why we have to wait until the evening or the morning for the results.  I'm ready to accept any legitimate results decided by the people in this election," he said.

Analysts predicted a low turnout because many voters are disillusioned by corruption scandals in the established political parties.

Anti-corruption activists called on Slovaks not to vote.  Protesters clashed with police in Bratislava on Friday.  Police used tear gas to disperse them.

Saturday's election comes two years early.  A four-party ruling coalition collapsed last October when one of its junior members refused to back the expansion of the eurozone's bailout fund.

The coalition was also involved in a scandal when a secret service wiretap revealed what seemed like a private financial group bribing government politicians.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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