Slovakia has elected its first female President – the lawyer and anti-corruption activist Zuzana Caputova. Ms. Caputova is a political novice and she was swept into the office in the aftermath of the 2018 killings of an investigative journalist and his fiancée. She won the presidential election with more than 58% of the vote in the runoff against the incumbent European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic. “Perhaps we thought politics was only a sign of weakness, and today we see it as a sign of strength,” she said after she had convincingly won the first round of the presidential election.
The Slovak public was keen on seeing an anti-corruption activist running for Slovakia’s highest office following the February 2019 killings of the investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova, which triggered the largest protests in Slovakia since the anti-Communist demonstrations in 1989 and led to the resignation of then-Prime Minister Robert Fico. The victory of Zuzana Caputova is also widely seen as a victory for pro-European and democratic forces throughout the region.
She won the election as a liberal candidate, supporting the rights of the LGBTQ community, against Maros Sefcovic, who was running on the platform of Christian values. “My main focus is to bring about change in Slovakia, and for Slovakia to be a reliable and predictable partner of the European Union,” the President-elect commented. Ms. Caputova also added her hope that her victory will encourage anti-corruption activists around Europe. “Obviously in the EU but also, more broadly, in Europe, developments in one country influence events in other countries and can have an inspirational effect,” she said.