Walesa favored, but runoff likely, A3.

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia (Reuters) - Voting was steady Saturday in Czechoslovakia's first free local elections since 1948, but a low turnout appeared likely in spite of appeals by national leaders.A politician attributed the apparent apathy to widespread disillusionment with the slow pace of democratic reforms since the end of communism a year ago.

Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar told the official news agency CTK that people's interest had decreased because their hopes had not been fulfilled since the June general election.

The two-day election over Friday and Saturday will install democratically elected leaders at municipal and district levels.

Prime Minister Marian Calfa urged voters not to give in to despair. "We consider the local elections at least as important as the parliamentary ones," he said Friday night.

In the first four hours of voting in Prague, about 35 percent of voters had cast their ballots, including President Vaclav Havel, who made a similar appeal to the population.

Just under 40 percent voted in Slovakia, the eastern third of the country, on the first day of the elections Friday. This was well down from the 70 percent who had voted in the same period in June.

Voting was closed Saturday night but the first projections based on partial results were not expected until Sunday evening. Comprehensive results are not expected until Wednesday.

More than 200,000 people among the 10.5 million eligible voters are running as candidates for 8,200 municipal and district councils to replace the former "national committees" which have run local affairs since World War II.

The elections should fill a gap between "great" and "small" politics in the country and bring more people into involvement with the country's affairs, Czech Prime Minister Petr Pithart said.

- In Yugoslavia, nationalist parties in Bosnia-Herzegovina won a sweeping victory over the governing communists in Yugoslav republic's first free elections in 52 years, the electoral commission announced Saturday.

The Moslem Union of Democratic Action and the Serbian Democratic Alliance took the majority of seats in the two chambers of the republic's Parliament in the Nov. 18 voting.