Slovakia set to elect anti-graft lawyer as first female president

Slovakia set to elect anti-graft lawyer as first female president
  • Clock-gray 16:05
  • calendar-gray 30 March 2019

Riding a wave of public fury over corruption, liberal lawyer Zuzana Caputova looked set to win Slovakia’s presidential election on Saturday, ONAreports citing Reuters.

Caputova, pro-European Union political novice who would become Slovakia’s first female president, won the election’s first round two weeks ago with 40.6 percent of the vote, ahead of European Commissioner Maros Sefcovic on 18.7 percent.

Sefcovic, a respected diplomat who is also pro-EU, is backed by the ruling party Smer, the largest grouping in parliament and which has dominated Slovak politics since 2006.

Caputova campaigned to end what she calls the capture of the state “by people pulling strings from behind”, a message that opinion polls show resonates with younger, educated voters.

Voting stations opened at 7 a.m. (0600 GMT) and were due to close at 10 p.m., with results expected overnight.

“I was convinced by Caputova’s history. She knows what it is like to face injustice and she has always had the back of those who fought against the oligarchs,” said Zuzana Behrikova, voter at a polling station in Bratislava.

“I believe she will be able to resist the pressures that come with the position.”

Slovakia’s president wields little day-to-day power but appoints prime ministers and can veto appointments of senior prosecutors and judges.

Caputova waged a 14-year fight with a company Kocner represented that wanted to build an illegal landfill in her home town. She eventually won the case, earning her the nickname “Slovakia’s Erin Brockovich”, after the American environmentalist famously portrayed by Julia Roberts in a 2000 film.

“Slovakia is waking up, showing great will to change and hope linked to this and the following election,” Caputova said in the last televised debate this week, hinting at the upcoming European Parliament vote and the 2020 general election.

An opinion poll by Median agency, the only survey released between the first and the second round of voting, put support for Caputova at 60.5 percent. Sefcovic, who has campaigned on his experience and personal relationships with foreign leaders, held a 39.5 percent vote share, according to the poll.

Courting voters who backed anti-immigration candidates in the first round of the presidential election, Sefcovic has said he rejects the vision of an EU “where the distribution of migrants would be decided by someone other than Slovakia”.

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