Slovak Republic’s First Female President: Zuzana Caputova Story
At the advent of the second millennium, the world has witnessed more women becoming the ‘Head of the State’ and winning premier elections to trounce the corrupt bunch of men. The percentage may be miniscule for the female leaders at this juncture of the history. However, their numbers are gradually and steadily increasing. Citizens of respective nations are fed up of narcissistic attitude of male leaders, who are controlling more and more like dictators.
Women leaders are creating history in their respective countries by promising a better future for their citizens. And, they are leading citizens with much needed actions to benefit their citizens at large. Ever since the Slovak Republic became an independent State on the 1st of January 1993, it has been ruled by four male leaders. For the very first time, a woman President will take over the reign of the Republic on the 15th of June 2019. Zuzana Caputova created history by winning the Presidential election to become the first woman President of the Slovak Republic.
As on the 3rd of April 2019, Zuzana Caputova will become the 24th woman in the world, who has successfully taken the reign as a President or Prime Minister or Chancellor of a nation. Zuzana Caputova’s name will be etched in the Slovak Republic and World History books as the first-ever woman President of her nation. It is indeed a great moment for Caputova, who is popularly known as the ‘Erin Brockovich’ of her country.
In her first speech as the newly-elected President of Slovakia, Zuzana Caputova exclaimed with joy and optimism, “I am happy not just for the result, but also mainly that it is possible not to succumb to populism, to tell the truth and to raise interest without aggressive vocabulary.” How true were her words unlike male leaders of the world, who lie blatantly to fool their own citizen. Zuzana Caputova reassured Slovakians that she has set herself apart from the populist parties’ waves, sweeping Europe.
Zuzana Caputova thanked her people in Slovak, Hungarian, Czech, Roma and Ruthenian, who voted for her to defeat her contenders, displaying solidarity with the nation’s minority groups and rejecting popular nationalist rhetoric of her neighbouring countries.
Winning the 2019 Presidential Election:
Zuzana Caputova maybe a newbie in nation’s political arena, but her heart is the right place with ‘Welfare for the Citizen’ coming first. One of the main reasons of Caputova’s big win was her anti-corruption campaign. Slovakians were fed up with journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova’s murder in February 2018. Slovak business Marian Kocner was charged for ordering the killing of the journalist and his fiancée. The shock murder had triggered huge protests, which took a tool on the Prime Minister Robert Fico and President Andrej Kiska. Fico had to resign and Kiska was forced to give up his candidacy for the 2019 Presidential election.
It was the journalist Kuciak’s killing, which inspired Caputova to run for the Presidential office. She wanted to put an end to people, who pull the strings with government’s backing. Zuzana Caputova had revealed in her earlier interview, “People are feeling frustrated and disappointed and are yearning for change. Some candidates have chosen to exploit this fear, but for me, using the emotions of hatred and fear is destructive.”
Zuzana Caputova made her intelligent move during the Presidential election campaign by backing issues of migrants and family values, which immediately connected with people. It was an effective ploy, just like the populist parties in Hungary and Poland. Earlier, same-sex marriage was illegal in the Slovak Republic. Caputova demanded greater rights for the LGBT community. Voters loved her progressive approach in their regressive governed rulers.
Extreme candidates for the Presidency were eliminated during the first round of voting. It is interesting to note that Zuzana Caputova’s Progressive Slovakia party has no seats in the Parliament. It will be noteworthy to see how Slovak Republic under Zuzana Caputova’s leadership will fare at the upcoming European Parliamentary Elections in May 2019.
Zuzana Caputova’s fierce personality and able leadership made her the first choice of her party for the 2019 Presidential election. She garnered 58% votes to triumph over her nearest rival Maros Sefcovic, who happened to be the Vice President of the European Commission. Maros Sefcovic is an independent candidate. He was strongly supported by the dominant Smer – SD Party.
Zuzana Caputova’s big win for the Progressive Slovakia party became a new chapter in nation’s history. She paid her due respect and homage at the Kuciak’s memorial after her victory was announced. She surely has lost a good friend in him. She plans to make systematic changes in the Police force, Prosecution office and the Judiciary. She strongly believes that nation’s Police force should work as a completely independent institution. It should be devoid of political interference, ideological abuse and corrupt officials.
As the President, Caputova plans to make sure that seniors would spent less time in institutional care with an option to love them in more specialized facilities. She would also put pressure on ruling government and the regional administrations to increase public healthcare services and salaries of workers. She believes euthanasia requires a serious and meaningful discussion.
Zuzana Caputova strongly believes and insists that environmental protection can no longer remain a marginal issue for the nation. According to Caputova, the real wealth of a nation constitutes of nature, clean rivers, forest full of life, underground reservoirs and fertile fields, because they provide people with secured jobs and livelihood. Zuzana Caputova wants to push for 5% as a strictly protected zone in the most environmentally valuable territory.
Caputova strongly believes that a child should have a biological mother and a biological father. She had stated, “If he were to grow up in institutional care, I think he'd be better off with two loving beings, even if they were of the same sex.” She will try to support legalizing registered partnerships for same-sex couples.
Zuzana Strapáková was born on the 21st of June 1973 in Bratislava, Czechoslavakia. She was born in a working class family. Little Zuzana’s childhood was spent in Pezinok, a nearby town. She was blessed for having a set of progressive parents. In the year 1996, Zuzana graduated with a Law degree from the Comenius University in Bratislava. She went onto complete her training cycle ‘General Management – Management of Change’ in 1998-99. In the year 1999, she did ARK – a meditation course, which is accredited by the Ministry of Education of Slovak Republic.
The Journey of Success:
Having completed her education, Zuzana Caputova worked as an assistant in the legal department of the local government in Pezinok. She later served as a Deputy to the Town Mayor. Her heart led her towards the non-profit sector. So, Zuzana Caputova joined the Open Society Foundations. With her education background, Zuzana was handling public administration, the issue of abused and exploited children. She moved out to join the Civic Association EQ Klub as a Project Manager on local community development.
In the year 2001, Zuzana Caputova joined the Civic Organization ‘Via Luris’ and worked for 16 long years. In 2010, she worked as a lawyer and also worked with Greenpeace on campaign planning. As an activist, she has been a leading voice in Pezinok for more than a decade. Zuzana Caputova led public campaign against the authorization of another landfill, which would aggravate pollution of the soil, air and water in the city and its surrounding areas. In the year 2013, the fight culminated against the landfill with the Supreme Court of Slovak’s ruling that any new landfill will hereby be illegal to violate environmental norms. It was a big win for the people and Zuzana Caputova’s noble efforts.
Cautova had been active running her own Law firm, writing and co-authoring various publications. She even became a fellow of ELAW – Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide, the network for environmental lawyers and jurists. In December 2017, Caputova joined the emerging political party ‘Progressive Slovakia’. A month later, she was elected as a Vice-Chairwoman at the party’s first Congress.
Zuzana Caputova’s leadership saw her becoming the party’s Deputy Chair. She was one of the co-founding members of Progressive Slovakia. The party is a non-parliamentary socially liberal and progressive party in the Slovak Republic. In March 2019, Zuzana Caputova resigned from the Deputy Chair post to fight the 2019 Slovak Republic Presidential election.
'Erin Brockovich' of Slovakia:
Zuzana Caputova’s association with journalist Kuciak was developed long before he was killed. As a lawyer and activist, she had waged a 14-year long battle against businessman Marian Kocner for illegal landfill in her hometown. Supreme Court of Slovak ruled against the businessman and Zuzana Caputova was hailed as the ‘Erin Brockovich of Slovakia’. In the year 2016, Caputova was honoured with the prestigious ‘Goldman Environmental Prize’ for her courageous fight against the mighty to safeguard the environment of her nation.
Zuzana Caputova has been fearless and outspoken all through her life. She cares for the oppressive people and fights with bravado for their rights and welfare. She will definitely make a good President for her nation. She has promised to her people that she would tackle the corruption in the system with effective measures. It will be amazing to see, how she would shake-up the corrupt political establishment under her leadership.
Zuzana got married to Ivan Caputova. The couple is blessed with two daughters. Their marriage ended in a divorce.