From attorney and activist to president of Slovakia. Who is Zuzana Čaputová?

Slovaks elect the first female president.

Zuzana Čaputová is the fifth Slovak president.Zuzana Čaputová is the fifth Slovak president. (Source: Jana Bírošová, SITA)

In this story, you can read about:

  • How she won the “green Nobel prize”
  • How she influenced European law
  • What connects her and Mečiar’s amnesties
  • Why she became a politician

Pro-western, pro-European, liberal, environmental activist and attorney. Zuzana Čaputová's critics branded her the “unknown girl” or “marketing product” or “someone we never heard of until a month ago” during the campaign.

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Indeed, Čaputová cannot boast of experiences in Slovak politics, but she is definitely an experienced lawyer and attorney.

Fighting for the environment

Her best-known and most successful case - the one she mentioned the most in her campaign, so much so that there were jokes about it - was the case of the controversial waste dump in her hometown of Pezinok. For 14 years, Čaputová led a public campaign to prevent the authorisation of a waste dump that would pollute the soil, air and water in the town and its surroundings.

The case peaked in 2013 when the Slovak Supreme Court proclaimed the planned waste dump to be illegal. This decision was linked to the verdict of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which confirmed the right of the public to have a say in decisions that impact the environment. Several conclusions of the ruling have been binding for EU member states since then.

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Čaputová's struggle was recognised internationally, when she won the Goldman Environmental Prize in April 2016, the world’s biggest award for grassroots environmental activists. Subsequently, she was invited to the White House.

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