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Liberal lawyer becomes Slovakia's first female president

Slovakia's presidential candidate Zuzana Caputova addresses the media
Slovakia's presidential candidate Zuzana Caputova addresses the media Copyright REUTERS
Copyright REUTERS
By Pascale Davies with Reuters
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Anti-corruption lawyer Zuzana Caputova was propelled to power by revolt over the murder of a journalist.


Anti-graft lawyer Zuzana Caputova won Slovakia's presidential election on Saturday, making her the country's first female head of state, breaking the trend that has seen populist, anti-European Union politicians make gains across the continent.

Pro-EU Caputova rode on a campaign of change and vowed to end corruption in a country, which she said is run "by people pulling strings from behind".

The run-off vote took place a year after journalist Jan Kuciak, who investigated high-profile fraud cases, and his fiancée were murdered at their home. The killings sparked public outrage and some of the biggest protests in Slovakia's post-communist history. It also forced the former prime minister Smer leader Robert Fico to resign last year.

Read more: Jan Kuciak murder: how has journalist's slaying changed Slovakia?

The 45-year old political novice won about 58.3% of the voted ahead of the more politically savvy European commissioner Maros Sefcovic who took 41.7%.

Sefcovic, who is also pro-EU and is a respected diplomat had the backing of the populist ruling party, SMER.

In the first round of votes two weeks ago, Caputova won with 40.5% and Sefcovic trailed behind her with 18.7%.

“I am happy not just for the result but mainly that it is possible not to succumb to populism, to tell the truth, to raise interest without aggressive vocabulary,” Caputova told a crowd of supporters in her acceptance speech.

“This started in the local election last year, was confirmed in the presidential election, and I believe the European (parliamentary election in May) will confirm it as well.”

As vice-chairwoman of the Progressive Slovakia party, Caputova supports gay marriage and adoption.

She has also been dubbed “Slovakia’s Erin Brockovich” after winning a case that wanted to build an illegal landfill in her home town. 

Read more: Why Slovakia is poised to elect a government critic, Euronews answers

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