Slovaks elect woman president against graft

The election of Zuzana Caputova as Slovakia’s first female president was greeted Sunday as a vote for change, with the anti-graft activist expected to provide a check on a government tarnished after last year’s murder of a journalist.

The 45-year-old environmental lawyer’s clear victory Saturday over the ruling party’s candidate was a blow to the populist-left Smer-SD — the largest grouping in parliament — and could spell trouble for them in the EU elections and next year’s general vote.

She is a relative political newcomer who rose to national prominence in the aftermath of the shootings of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee in February 2018, which sparked mass protests and toppled the then-premier.

Caputova won 58.4 per cent of the vote according to a final tally of results released on Sunday, compared with 41.6 per cent for her ruling party rival, EU energy commissioner Maros Sefcovic.

“A candidate embodying democratic forces has won, and Sefcovic, who was a symbol of continuity, has lost,” analyst Grigorij Meseznikov told AFP.