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Slovak presidential elections: Progressive bid of Zuzana Caputova gains momentum

Campaign poster of Zuzana Caputova in Slovakia

Bratislava, Slovakia – In exactly one month, Slovaks will head to the polls to elect the successor of President Andrej Kiska, who announced last year he would not seek reelection. But as the elections deadline draws near, the outcome remains uncertain and a former outsider, Zuzana Caputova, appears to be gaining momentum.

According to the second poll conducted during the first half of February by the Focus agency,  European Commission vice-president and nominee from the ruling Smer party Maroš Šefčovič is still leading with more than 20% of voting intentions. A previous AKO poll already put him in the lead, at around 18% of voting preferences.

Scientist and independent candidate, backed by several opposition parties, Robert Mistrik remains in second place with 17.1% of voting intentions (and 15.8% in the previous AKO poll).

But the surprise comes from lawyer Zuzana Caputova from the progressive left-wing Progresivne Slovensko, who rose to the third place with 14.4% of voting intentions for the upcoming elections, more than 5 percentage points higher than in January.

But some, like OĽaNO chairman Igor Matovič, are urging her to withdraw from the race and support Robert Mistrik by fear her bid will weaken the liberal opposition and risks sending former Supreme Court judge Štefan Harabin, currently in the fourth place with 13.6%, in the run-off against Šefčovič. Zuzana Čaputová had already refused to withdraw from the race earlier this week: “For now, I feel the responsibility to remain in the campaign and continue. I regard the question of my withdrawal to be off the table”, she said.

“She had time, an additional three weeks, and this is the outcome”, Igor Matovič argued, asking her to drop her candidacy before Friday as election ballots are scheduled to be printed with the names of all the candidates after February 15.

The Focus agency poll suggests that only Mistrik would be able to narrowly beat the Smer-nominee in the second round of the election.

Other candidates trailing behind the front-runners are far-right extremist and leader of People’s Party Our Slovakia Marian Kotleba (8.9%), leader of the Hungarian minority Most-Hid party Béla Bugár (7.4%) and Milan Krajniak from right-wing political party We Are Family (6.3%).

In total fifteen candidates (13 men and 2 women) will face off in the first round of the Slovak presidential elections on March 16: you can find the complete list and profile of the candidates here. If no one manages to secure more than 50% of the votes, a run-off will be held between the top two candidates on March 30.

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