Slovakia: Does Čaputová's victory signal change?

Zuzana Čaputová, a liberal lawyer and newcomer to politics, has won the first round of Slovakia's presidential election with 41 percent of the vote. She now stands a good chance of winning the runoff vote against EU Commissioner and Social Democrat Maroš Šefčovič. While many see the result as a hopeful sign, others warn against celebrating too soon.

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Azonnali (HU) /

Hungary will learn its lesson too

Slovakia has learned a lesson that Hungary has yet to grasp, the liberal website Azonnali believes:

“As Gábor Vona [former far-right leader who now casts himself as a moderate] put it: it was only with the Orbán regime that he understood why it's better to live in a liberal democracy. In 1989 the people of Hungary didn't really want a liberal democracy, it simply happened to them. The people's experience with Viktor Orbán will mean that - not immediately of course, nor even tomorrow, but some time in the next ten years - they really will want liberal democracy as the state form. Slovakia simply had the bad experience earlier than Hungary, which is why it was able to move on sooner as well.”

Mladá fronta dnes (CZ) /

Extremists not beaten by a long shot

No fewer than half a million people - a quarter of the voters - cast their ballots for two far-right candidates who came in third and fourth place, and this should be borne in mind for the parliamentary elections in the coming year, Mladá fronta dnes warns:

“Yes, two pro-European candidates made it to the second round. But Slovakia is by no means as pro-European as it might seem at first glance. Sooner or later the celebratory fireworks will disappear. Then it will be time to take a good look at the runners up. In a year's time a new parliament will be elected. Who knows what will happen then.”

Sme (SK) /

Desire for decency and truth

The results of the election reflect the voters' desire for change, editor-in-chief of Sme Beata Balogová explains:

“Zuzana Čaputová was able to convince all those who, a year after the journalist's murder, see the country at a crossroads and want to take the path of decency, respect for the law and truth. ... Čaputová's victory was not the result of a vote for the lesser evil. On the contrary, the country has elected her full of confidence. ... It has also said 'No' to the fascists. These conspirators, doubters and liars will no doubt try to appeal to the voters' most base instincts in the campaign leading up to the second round. But it's highly likely that the desire for fair and honest politics will prevail.”

Népszava (HU) /

Slovaks no longer believe in false prophets

Slovakia is becoming a role model for Central Eastern Europe, Népszava comments in delight:

“Most people in the region seek their messiah either in autocratic leaders or populists who make all kinds of promises, foment hatred, marginalise people and try to spread anti-EU sentiment: The Slovaks, by contrast, have understood that only democracy according to the Western model can lead to Western living standards. A few years were enough to teach them to stop putting their faith in false prophets and instead believe that change must and can be achieved within the framework of democracy.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Kiska positioning himself to run for PM

Rzeczpospolita looks at why the president didn't run for re-election:

“Andrej Kiska didn't take part in the election even though many analysts believed he had a chance of winning in the first round. He was the most prominent critic of the current system when people all over the country took to the streets to demonstrate against the government following the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak. ... Kiska has now declared that the murder of a journalist, which revealed the state of the elite, makes a new political leadership necessary. We can assume that he no longer wants to be confined to the representative post of president but wants to move into real politics. He is probably aiming for the post of prime minister: parliamentary elections will take place in March 2020 at the latest.”