Slovakia’s first female president a symbol of rejection of populism

In a rebuff to rising alt-right populism in many central European countries, Slovakia has elected its first female president, who fashioned her stunning electoral victory around a powerful anti-corruption campaign.
Zuzana Caputova, a political greenhorn, a liberal environmental activist and a divorced mother-of-two, won 58 per cent of the vote in the election. Known for her crusading anti-corruption activism, she earned the popular title of “Slovakia’s Erin Brockovich,” after the environmental campaigner played by Julia Roberts in the eponymous film.
In her acceptance speech on March 30, Caputova struck a refreshing note of change when she thanked voters not just in Slovak, but in Hungarian, Czech, Roma and Ruthenian – the languages spoken by Slovakia’s minority groups.
“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,” said the 45-year-old lawyer.