Lawyer wins run-off to become Slovakia’s first female president

Bratislava: Liberal lawyer Zuzana Caputova will becomeSlovakia’s first female president, according to the final results of Saturday’s run-off election.
Caputova gained 58.4 per cent in the vote against Maros Sefcovic, currently the EU’s energy commissioner. He won 41.6 per cent of the vote, according to the official results released on Sunday.
The 45-year-old will be sworn in on June 15 to the post of president,a largely ceremonial role. Caputova is a liberal civic lawyer with the Progresivne Slovensko party who first got involved in politics more than 10 years ago to fight plans to build a garbage dump.
She has been repeatedly criticised by the church and other conservative groups for her stance on abortion and homosexuals, but said her victory in the first round showed that Slovakia is not as conservative as many people believe it is. Caputova thanked voters on Saturday night in a speech she gave in Slovak, Czech, Hungarian and the language of the Roma minority.
She told supporters she saw her election as a signal for change. Her supporters chanted “Zuzana, Zuzana!”
Caputova said she aimed to take a “clearly pro-European stance.”
More than 4 million people were eligible to cast their ballots in the poll, a head-on contest between the two candidates who gained the most votes in the first round of the elections on March 16. The turnout in the second round was 41.8 per cent — several percentage points lower than in the first round. The murder of journalist Jan Kuciak in February prompted mass protests in Slovakia that forced a change in the government.
Speaking on the campaign trail, Caputova said she would “initiate systematic changes that would deprive prosecutors and the police of political influence.”
In addition to fighting for justice for all, Caputova had promised better care for the elderly and environmental protection. Teacher Iveta Rabelyova said “Caputova has challenged the typical image of a top politician: she is a woman, divorced, a political novice.” “It is a good feeling that our citizens chose someone who breaks all these stereotypes,” the 34-year-old said. — DPA