Slovakia is picking a president today.
It is a largely ceremonial post but the political stakes are high with the election seen as a test of support for the prime minister. He backs the man currently in the job, frontrunner Ivan Gasparovic. But, for the first time, a female challenger also has a real chance of becoming president. Christian Democrat Iveta Radicova is forecast to take the vote to a second round. Some doubt a woman’s chances of winning in such a traditionally conservative country. Her election bid is made all the more difficult by the popular leftist premier Robert Fico’s endorsement of the current President. The vote takes place against the background of the global financial crisis which has hit EU member Slovakia less severely than some other central and eastern European states.