Slovak Presidential elections: Frontrunner speaks Romanes when thanking first-round voters
Lawyer Zuzana Čaputová is the clear front-runner of the first round of voting for the President of Slovakia this weekend. She received almost 41 % of the vote, far ahead of Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission Vice-President who received 18.7 % of the vote and will be Čaputová's sole challenger in the second round.
Voter turnout in the first round was 46.04 %. Čaputová thanked all voters for casting ballots and addressed Romani voters in the Romanes language.
The current Slovak President Andrej Kiska has already congratulated the front-runner on her first-round victory. Štefan Harabin, a Supreme Court Justice, came in third with 14.35 % of the ballots, while fourth place went to Marian Kotleba, the boss of the Fascist party called Kotleba-Lidová strana Naše Slovensko (Kotleba-People's Party Our Slovakia).
The second round of voting will take place on 30 March. Čaputová is vice-chair of Progresivní Slovensko (Progressive Slovakia), a party not seated in Parliament, and profiled herself in her campaign as opposing the strongest governing party, Směr-sociální demokracie ("Direction-Social Democracy") of former Prime Minister Robert Fico, which is supporting Šefčovič.
Candidate Harabin is a controversial justice who, unlike the two-front-runners, criticizes the EU and makes no secret of his accommodating attitude toward Russia. While Čaputová's campaign supported the opportunity for same-sex couples to adopt children, Šefčovič came forward in favor of what he described as "Christian values and the traditional family".
Neither candidate going into the second round has experience in high politics in Slovakia, although Šefčovič has worked in diplomacy for many years and has been a member of the European Commission since 2009. The third-place Harabin is also a former Justice Minister and former head of the Slovak Supreme Court.
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