Presidential election: Support for Čaputová skyrockets before moratorium on polls

Polls suggest there are three strongest candidates for Slovak president.

Zuzana ČaputováZuzana Čaputová (Source: Diana Černáková, SITA)

At the start of her campaign, Zuzana Čaputová was little known among the electorate and although her support was gradually going up, she occupied fourth place in the polls at best. As of the end of February, roughly one quarter of voters say they would vote for her in the upcoming presidential election.

“Čaputová would take a single step to the second round,” a political analyst from think-tank Institute for Public Affairs, Grigorij Mesežnikov, told The Slovak Spectator. “She has a great margin, potential to grow and I cannot imagine what could threaten her in the next weeks.”

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When Slovaks go to polling stations on March 16 to attend the first voting round of the presidential election, they will have no idea whether Čaputová has maintained the rising trend in her voter support. Election legislation disallow the publishing results of opinion polls two weeks before the election.

In the three polls that polling agencies published just before the moratorium starts on March 1, Čaputová is leading before other candidates with her support oscillating around 25 percent. The polls, however, still counted with Robert Mistrík, who withdrew from the presidential campaign on Tuesday, February 26, in favour of Čaputová.

His withdrawal came as a surprise, even though he and Čaputová had a non-binding agreement that the one with lesser support in the polls would step down to strengthen the support for the other. Given the numbers up until mid-February, however, Mistrík was widely believed to be the one who would remain in the race.

“I was delighted, and it confirmed that Slovak society is not as rigid and retrograde as we usually think,” political analyst Viera Žúborová, from the Bratislava Policy Institute, commented on Mistrík's decision to step down in an interiew with The Slovak Spectator. It is almost unimaginable that in other central European countries a male politician of more conservative opinions would give way to a woman with progressive and liberal views.

Žúborová views his decision as proof of his strong integrity and responsibility towards where Slovakia is heading.

Three polls – three wins

The poll of the Median agency conducted for public-service broadcaster RTVS measured 23.5 percent support for Zuzana Čaputová, 20.5 percent for Maroš Šefčovič, 15 percent for Robert Mistrík and 10.5 percent for Štefan Harabin. The poll was conducted between February 11 and 23 on 1,002 respondents.

Robert Mistrík stepped down based on the Focus agency poll conducted for his team. This poll measured 26.3 percent for Čaputová, 20.4 percent for Maroš Šefčovič, only half of Čaputová’s preferences – 13.1 percent – for Robert Mistrík and another 13 percent for Štefan Harabin. The poll was conducted between February 21 and 26 on 1,022 respondents.

The most recent poll conducted by AKO agency for private broadcaster TA3 again showed Čaputová first with the support of 27 percent, followed by Šefčovič with 17.1 percent, Mistrík 16.8 percent and Harabin 11.7 percent. The poll took place between February 22 and 25 on 1,000 respondents.

Čaputová’s popularity in polls is expected to grow more after Mistrík’s withdrawal. Martin Slosiarik from the Focus polling agency estimates that she can count with the support of at least 60 percent of Mistrík’s voters.

“Still, it cannot be ruled out that she will gain even higher support,” Slosiarik told The Slovak Spectator. “Her leading position may persuade the voters of candidates with lower preferences to join her side.”

Šefčovič or Harabin?

Slosiarik mentions the so-called snowball effect: success in the polls attracts more and more voters.

As for Mistrík’s supporters, they are likely to go for other candidates too, but not just any candidates. While Štefan Harabin, who attracts mostly the anti-system electorate would not gain any of them, about one fifth of Mistrík’s supporters stated in the polls that Šefčovič was their second choice.

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