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Slovakia elects first female president

by Teddy Leting
Suzana Caputova, Slovakia first female president

Candid government critic and anti-corruption activist Zuzana Čaputová was set to become Slovakia ’s first female president after near complete results showed her winning Saturday’s runoff election.

The environmental lawyer got 58.01% of the ballot after results from more than 90% of polling stations were counted, while the EU energy commissioner Maroš Šefčovič garnered 41.98, the Slovak statistics office said.

“No need to worry, all will be fine,” Čaputová had said on Facebook after the first results began rolling in. Šefčovič, 52, the candidate of the ruling Smer-SD party, said he had called Čaputová, 45, to congratulate her and also planned to send flowers.

“The first female president of Slovakia deserves a bouquet,” he said.

Čaputová, a political postulant who ran on a slogan of “Stand up to evil,” had earlier said the campaign showed that values such as humanism, solidarity and truth are important to the society. She had also called the last few weeks “extremely challenging” and “an intense journey”.

Čaputová won a 2016 award for successfully blocking a planned landfill in her hometown, Pezinok. More recently, she took to the streets along with tens of thousands of other anti-government protesters after the investigative journalist Ján Kuciak was shot dead alongside his fiancee, Martina Kušnírová, in February 2018.

Ján had been preparing to publish a story on alleged ties between Slovak politicians and the Italian mafia. The killings forced the then prime minister, Robert Fico, to resign but he remains leader of the leftwing Smer-SD and is a close ally of the current prime minister.

Five people have been charged, including a millionaire businessman with alleged Smer-SD ties who is suspected of ordering the murders. The European parliament has urged Slovakia to look into “any possible political links to the crimes”.

MEPs voiced concerns about the allegations of corruption, conflicts of interest, impunity and revolving doors in Slovakia’s circles of power. During one of a TV live interview on the campaign trail, Čaputová said she would “initiate systematic changes that would deprive prosecutors and the police of political influence.”

This week she won an endorsement from Jozef Kuciak, the murdered journalist’s brother, who denounced Šefčovič for his ties to the political establishment.

“I will not vote for someone supported by oligarchs and their people who have deprived me of my brother and sister-in-law,” he said.

The outgoing president, Andrej Kiska, also endorsed Čaputová, saying on Saturday: “We need politicians who will fight for a decent and just Slovakia.”


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