A vocal government critic and anti-corruption activist has become Slovakia’s first female president after near complete results gave her an unassailable lead in Saturday’s run-off election.
Environmental lawyer Zuzana Caputova got 58.01 percent of the ballot after results from 91.26 percent of polling stations were counted, while EU energy commissioner Maros Sefcovic garnered 41.98, the Slovak Statistics Office said.
“No need to worry, all will be fine,” Caputova had said on Facebook after the first results began rolling in.
Sefcovic, the 52-year-old ruling party candidate, told reporters he called Caputova, 45, to congratulate her on the win and planned to also send flowers.
“The first female president of Slovakia deserves a bouquet,” he said.
Political novice Caputova, 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 our society.”
She had also called the last few weeks “extremely challenging” and “an intense journey”.
No stranger to tough battles, Caputova won a 2016 award for successfully blocking a planned landfill in her hometown of Pezinok.
More recently, she took to the streets of the central European country of 5.4 million along with tens of thousands of other anti-government protesters after investigative journalist Jan Kuciak was gunned down alongside his fiancee in February 2018.
He had been preparing to publish a story on alleged ties between Slovak politicians and the Italian mafia.
The killings forced then prime minister Robert Fico to resign but he remains leader of the governing populist-left Smer-SD party and is a close ally of the current premier.
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 “concern about the allegations of corruption, conflicts of interest, impunity and revolving doors in Slovakia’s circles of power.”
Speaking to AFP on the campaign trail, Caputova said she would “initiate systematic changes that would deprive prosecutors and the police of political influence.”
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