Slovakia holds its presidential election this weekend and, for the first time, a woman is one of the two front-runners. Christian Democrat Iveta Radicova has put up a strong challenge for the largely ceremonial post. She has sparked criticism among the clergy for refusing to back a total ban on abortion. Former communist Slovakia has a conservative tradition linked to a strong Catholic influence.
Her rival, and still the favourite to hang onto his job, is current President Ivan Gasparovic, although the vote is expected to go to a second round. Ahead of legislative elections, Saturday’s ballot is also being seen as a test for Slovakia’s leftist prime minister. Gasparovic has been strongly supported by premier Robert Fico who has taken an active role in his campaign, appearing with the President on dozens of billboards nationwide.