Slovak Presidential elections 2019

Zuzana Čaputová will be the first woman to hold the presidency of the Slovak Republic. What factors propelled the rather untypical candidate's success?

Nice does not equal weak

05/14/2019 - 18:28
How is it possible that the first female President of Slovakia is a woman who was unknown to most of the public? And how did she manage to beat a Slovak diplomat and a member of the European Commission? The answer to this question might be in her rhetoric and values. It seems as if her election signalled the end for aggressive politicians, who base their campaigns on hatred and fear. The 2019 Slovak presidential elections were a victory for serenity, respectability and decency.

The 2019 Slovak presidential elections were held on 16 March 2019, with the runoff on 30 March 2019.

Winner of the first round was Zuzana Čaputová with 40.6% of the votes.  Maroš Šefčovič received 18.7% of the votes. Based on these results, both Čaputová and Šefčovič earned a place in the runoff. During the second round Zuzana Čaputová received 58.4% of all votes and became the first female president of the Slovak Republic. Her inauguration will take place on 15 June 2019.  

Let’s take a look at what preceded the victory of Zuzana Čaputová and the defeat of the Vice-President of the European Commission for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič.

A Way to Make a Change

Čaputová was a candidate of the political party called Progressive Slovakia. With just 4% in the first poles (in November), she was anything but an obvious leading figure of the elections. This however, radically changed after the resignation of Robert Mistrík, who gave up his place in favour of Čaputová. In February 2019 she gathered 44.8% of the votes. But it was not only this resignation that made Zuzana Čaputová important and in fact, the best candidate.  

Right from the beginning of her campaign, her rhetoric was somewhat unusual. She was able to express her opinions in a very clear and cultivated manner in all discussions, without seeming weak. Even when she was criticised and unfairly accused of being too liberal for most Slovak people, supporting same-sex civil marriages and adoption of children by homosexual couples, she remained calm. Čaputová was seen as a liberal candidate who is not capable to impress more conservative voters, but her rhetoric did address voters whose values might have been slightly different and whose opinions are not very west-oriented.

The biggest problem that some candidates had with Čaputová was a lack of so called Christian values. Šefčovič spoke for a traditional family and traditional marriage. But what is more Christian? To accept everyone be it an immigrant or homosexual, or to solely accept people who are traditional themselves? I highly doubt that excluding people or questioning their rights would be the best representation of Christian values.

The Conservative Candidate and his Christian Values

Maroš Ševčovič was running as an independent candidate, supported by the Smer-SD party. He would not have made an incompetent President at all. Many people were positively surprised that the Smer-SD party had him as a candidate. Unfortunately, he adjusted his campaign to the rhetoric of the Smer party. He tried to impress conservative people by speaking against LGBT rights, same-sex adoptions and civil marriages. His critique of the opinions of his opponent, Čaputová, were quite expected. Šefčovič considered her liberalism to be against Christian values and traditions. As former Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD), Šefčovič also mentioned in some of the discussions that he was confirmed. Even though this might impress some people, for the majority, he was not believable enough. He could not even name all the Ten Commandments, when asked. He used the fear of the unknown and spoke of speedy deportation policies, while criticising Čaputová for her opinions of the European migrant crisis.

At the beginning of the campaigns, Šefčovič was a leading figure and that was not surprising at all, since he is a member of European Commission, a Slovak diplomat and Vice-President of the European Commission for the Energy Union. Zuzana Čaputová was almost unknown to most of the public but she managed to win the support of the majority of Slovak people, even those who have more conservative views. Her victory might be seen as a victory of decency and respectability and in fact, it may be even perceived as a victory of the values that Šefčovič based his campaign on.

A good President should connect people, not divide them. Speaking of values, connecting and collaboration are also the primary values that we should work on. Čaputová showed respect to all of her opponents, she took into consideration minorities in Slovakia and she showed everyone that actually being decent rather than aggressive is the way to win and make a difference. 

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

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