Slovak President Caputova Announces She Will Not Seek Re-Election Next Year
Caputova has long been the most popular politician in Slovakia, although her popularity has declined recently. Photo credit: President.sk.
Bratislava, June 21 (CTK) – Slovak President Zuzana Caputova told journalists yesterday that she does not intend to seek re-election in 2024, adding that she would not have enough strength to carry out another five-year presidential mandate.
Caputova was elected president in a direct presidential election in 2019, and her five-year term ends in mid-June 2024. She had not been involved in top politics before.
Caputova has long been the most popular politician in Slovakia, although her popularity has declined recently, according to public opinion polls.
“Before announcing this decision, I had to estimate my strength for the next, potentially six years from now. And after very honest consideration, today I know that those forces would not be enough for another term,” said Caputova, one day before her 50th birthday today.
She added that she also took her family into account when making her decision.
She has been the target of repeated verbal abuse from some politicians, and said in May that she and her family were facing renewed death threats.
Caputova is the first woman to hold the post of head of state in the history of Slovakia. She has strongly pro-European views, advocates support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion, and emphasises the rule of law.
Even as president, she has tended to avoid verbal confrontations with her critics, and in the past has repeatedly cited the motto that decency is not weakness.
“Please do not take my decision not to run as proof that one cannot succeed with decency. With decency, it is possible to win an election, hold office and remain the most trusted politician,” Caputova said.
She said Slovakia did not depend on one single person, that wise and empathetic people with plenty of energy have run in various elections and there is no reason why this should not be the case in the next presidential election. She did not indicate whether she intended to stay in politics after her presidential term ends.
In the 2019 election, she represented the extra-parliamentary Progressive Slovakia movement, which is currently polling second in the country according to the latest Ipsos electoral model.
Slovakia’s leading political parties have not yet announced their presidential candidates, and are focusing more on the early elections due on 30 September. According to the press, former foreign minister Jan Kubis is considering a presidential bid. Another former foreign minister, Ivan Korcok, who quit the post last autumn following the departure of the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party from the governing coalition, earlier said he would not run for presidency if Caputova were among the candidates.
As the Slovak president, she has long faced verbal attacks from, for example, representatives of ex-PM Robert Fico’s Smer-SD, which leads in polls ahead of September’s election, and from Igor Matovic, another former PM and the head of the largest party in parliament, Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLaNO).
Robert Fico, a former three-term prime minister, has previously claimed, among other things, that Caputova is an agent of the United States and that she receives instructions from the US embassy. Upon the appointment of the caretaker government in May, Fico linked Caputova, along with the current PM, economist Ludovit Odor, to the activities of US financier George Soros.
Last year, a court banned Lubos Blaha, current deputy chairman of Smer-SD, from referring to Caputova as a U.S. agent or traitor. Matovic, who quit as prime minister in 2021 because of a crisis in the ruling coalition, and lost his seat as finance minister last December, has also made repeated verbal attacks on the president.
Caputova’s predecessor, Andrej Kiska, did not seek re-election for the second term either. In the last parliamentary elections, held at the end of February 2020, he ran as the leader of his own For the People party, which became the smallest party in the resulting parliament. Kiska did not take up his mandate as an MP, and later announced his retirement from politics due to health problems. Almost all of the party’s MPs left, most of them moving to the SaS group in parliament.