Slovakia could elect its 1st female head of state

Zuzana Čaputová and Maroš Šefčovič in one of the debates organised by private broadcaster TV Markíza

Zuzana Čaputová and Maroš Šefčovič in one of the debates organised by private broadcaster TV Markíza

Sefcovic told reporters he called Caputova to congratulate her on the win and said he would send her flowers: "The first female president of Slovakia deserves a bouquet".

Sefcovic conceded defeat shortly before midnight.

"I'm extremely happy about the result", Caputova said.

"I believe she will be able to resist the pressures that come with the position".

"Zuzana, Zuzana", her supporters chanted.

The BBC's Rob Cameron in Bratislava says that although the presidency is mainly a ceremonial role, Ms Caputova is framing the election as a struggle between good and evil.

An opinion poll by Median agency, the only survey released between the first and the second round of voting, put support for Caputova at 60.5 percent.

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Five people have been charged with the murders of Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova, including businessman Marian Kocner, who was investigated by Kuciak, and who has become a symbol of perceived impunity after more than a decade of rule by Smer. Caputova cited Jan Kuciak's death as one of the reasons she chose to run for president, which is a largely ceremonial role.

Jan Kuciak was looking into links between politicians and organised crime when he was shot alongside his fiancée in February 2018.

The victor will become the country's fifth head of state since Slovakia gained independence in 1993 after Czechoslovakia split in two.

Slovakia's president wields little day-to-day power but appoints prime ministers and can veto appointments of senior prosecutors and judges. She became known for leading a successful fight against a toxic waste dump in her hometown of Pezinok, for which she received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2016. She has also campaigned on a platform to fight nationalism and supports European Union integration. He is supported by the ruling, leftist Smer-Social Democracy party, a major force in Slovak politics. He campaigned on a traditional family values ticket.

The 45-year old member of a liberal non-parliamentary Progressive Slovakia party has been endorsed by opposition parties and a junior party in the ruling coalition that represents the ethnic Hungarian minority, as well as outgoing President Andrej Kiska.

Fico's party has already suffered losses in local elections in November - the first votes since the largest demonstrations in the country since the anti-Communist Velvet Revolution of 1989.

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