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Liberal Lawyer Zuzana Caputova Is Slovakia’s First Female President

Riding a wave of public fury over corruption, liberal lawyer Zuzana Caputova won Slovakia’s presidential election on Saturday, bucking a trend that has seen populist, anti-European Union politicians make gains across the continent. Corruption and change in political style were the main themes ahead of the run-off vote, which took place a year after journalist Jan Kuciak, who investigated high-profile fraud cases, and his fiancée were murdered at their home. The pro-EU political novice, who will be the euro zone country’s first female president, had 58.3 percent of the votes after results from 98.1 percent of voting districts were counted, ahead of European commissioner Maros Sefcovic who took 41.7 percent. Maros, a respected diplomat who is also pro-EU, is backed by the ruling party Smer, the largest grouping in parliament that has dominated Slovak politics since 2006. Zuzana, the front runner having won the first round more than 20 percentage points ahead of Maros, campaigned to end what she calls the capture of the state “by people pulling strings from behind”, a message that opinion polls show resonates with younger, educated voters. The 45-year old member of a liberal non-parliamentary Progressive Slovakia has been endorsed by opposition parties and a junior party in the ruling coalition that represents the ethnic Hungarian minority, as well as outgoing President Andrej Kiska. She started her acceptance speech by thanking voters in Slovak, as well as in the Hungarian, Czech, Roma and Ruthenian languages, turning to all main minority groups. She had waged a 14-year fight with a company businessman Marian Kocner represented that wanted to build an illegal landfill in her home town. Zuzana eventually won the case, earning her the moniker “Slovakia’s Erin Brockovich,” after the American environmentalist portrayed by Julia Roberts in a 2000 film.