Slovakia's 'Erin Brockovich' elected first female president, in rebuke of populism

When Slovakia's newly elected President Zuzana Caputova -- the country's first ever female head of state -- delivered her acceptance speech on Saturday she immediately set herself apart from the wave of populist parties sweeping Europe.

The 45-year-old liberal lawyer thanked voters not just in Slovak -- but in Hungarian, Czech, Roma and Ruthenian -- in a show of unity with the nation's minority groups and rejection of the nationalist rhetoric popular in some neighboring countries.

"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," she told supporters, Reuters reported.

Caputova is a political newbie who's anti-corruption campaign struck a chord in a country still grappling with the murder in February last year of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova.

The murder -- and subsequent trial of Slovak businessman Marian Kocner who was charged with ordering the killing -- triggered some of the biggest protests seen in post-communist Slovakia and ultimately led to the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Fico.

Then-President Andrej Kiska was also forced not to stand for a second term.


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