Slovakia elects first female president, a liberal lawyer

Zuzana Caputova speaks to journalists and supporters at her election headquarters Saturday night in Bratislava, Slovakia. She later declared victory to become the nation's first female leader. Photo by Martin Divisek/EPA

April 1 (UPI) — Zuzana Caputova, a liberal lawyer, was elected Slovakia’s first female president.

Caputova, 45, staved off a wave of populist parties sweeping elections elsewhere in Europe.

She thanked voters in Slovak, Hungarian, Czech, Roma and Ruthenian in recognition of her support from the nation’s minority groups.

Slovakia, a land-locked country in central Europe that was part of Czechoslovakia until 1993, has a population of 5.4 million and is 80 percent Slovaks.

Caputova won the runoff round with 58.2 percent of the vote compared with Sefcovic’s 41.8 percent with more than 94 percent of the votes counted. Capitova had more than twice as many votes as Sefcovic the first round of voting on March 16 but a non-majority forced a runoff.

She ran for an office for the first time, running as anti-corruption and anti-nationalism candidate.

“Perhaps we thought that justice and fairness in politics is just an intellectual topic, but today we see that it is the desire of many people,” Caputova said.

President Andrej Kiska didn’t seek a second term, and Prime Minister Robert Fico resigned as fallout from the murder in February last year of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova. Slovak businessman Marian Kocner was charged with ordering the killing.

Capitova, who waged a 14-year legal battle with a company represented by Kocner, became known as “Slovakia’s Erin Brockovich,” — a reference to the environmental whistleblower.

The presidency is largely ceremonial, although the president does appoint the prime minister.


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