Slovaks votes for Presidential

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Zuzana Caputova, the crusader and an anti-corruption campaigner with no experience in public office.

She won the first round of Slovakia’s presidential election on Saturday, setting up a tough clash with the ruling Smer party’s candidate.

Slovaks began voting Saturday in round one of a presidential election that a vocal government critic is poised to win after an investigative journalist’s murder dealt a blow to the ruling elite.

Frontrunner Zuzana Caputova, 45, was among tens of thousands of protesters who took to the streets of the eurozone country of 5.4 million last year after the killing raised concerns about media freedom and political corruption.

Opinion polls give the environmental lawyer and mother of two a double-digit lead over European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, a 52-year-old career diplomat backed by the ruling Smer-SD party.

Journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee were gunned down in February 2018, just as he was to publish a story on alleged ties between Slovak politicians and the Italian mafia plus associated irregularities in EU farm subsidy payments.

Though the office is largely ceremonial, the president ratifies international treaties, appoints top judges and is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The head of state can also veto laws passed by parliament. Thirteen candidates are vying for the job, including Supreme Court judge Stefan Harabin, far-right MP Marian Kotleba and ethnic Hungarian politician Bela Bugar.

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