BRATISLAVA, Slovakia—Relative newcomer Zuzana Caputova has been elected as the first female president of Slovakia.
Caputova had 58 percent of the vote with almost 95 percent of returns counted in Saturday’s runoff election, topping European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, who had 42 percent.
Sefcovic conceded defeat and congratulated his rival.
“I’m extremely happy about the result,” Caputova said. “It’s an extremely strong mandate for me,” she said.
“Zuzana, Zuzana,” her supporters chanted.
Caputova, 45, has little experience in politics and attracted voters who are appalled by corruption and mainstream politics.
She only recently became vice chairman of the Progressive Slovakia. Caputova resigned from her party post after winning the first round of the presidential vote two weeks ago.
She becomes Slovakia’s fifth president since the country gained independence after the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993.
The president of the nation of 5.4 million people has the power to pick the prime minister, appoint Constitutional Court judges and veto laws. Parliament can override the veto with a simple majority, however. The government, led by the prime minister, possesses most executive powers.
Sefcovic, 52, is a career diplomat who was supported by the leftist Smer-Social Democracy party led by former Prime Minister Robert Fico, a major force in Slovak politics that was tarnished by corruption scandals. He campaigned on a traditional family values ticket.
Incumbent Andrej Kiska, who did not stand for a second term, backed Caputova in the vote.
The two had supported the massive anti-government street protests last year triggered by the slayings of an investigative reporter and his fiancee that that led to the fall of Fico’s coalition government. Investigators have linked Jan Kuciak’s death to his work probing possible widespread government corruption.
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.