Slovak President Zuzana Caputova Declares Decision Not to Seek Re-election in 2024

Slovak President Zuzana Caputova made a significant announcement yesterday, stating that she will not be seeking re-election in 2024. In a press conference, she expressed her belief that she would not possess the necessary strength to fulfill another five-year presidential mandate. Caputova, who was elected as Slovakia’s president in 2019 through a direct presidential election, will complete her current term in mid-June 2024. Despite being a political newcomer, she quickly gained popularity and became the country’s most favored politician. However, recent public opinion polls have shown a decline in her popularity.

In her statement, Caputova revealed that she thoroughly assessed her capacity for the potential six years ahead, considering not only herself but also her family. The Slovak President has faced verbal abuse from certain politicians and has even reported death threats against her and her family. Nonetheless, she maintained a strong stance on her pro-European views, advocating for Ukraine against the Russian invasion, and emphasizing the importance of the rule of law.

Caputova, who has avoided engaging in verbal confrontations with her critics, urged others not to interpret her decision as a sign that decency cannot succeed. She reassured the public that one can triumph with decency, hold office, and remain a trusted politician. Furthermore, she emphasized that Slovakia does not rely solely on one individual, encouraging the participation of wise and empathetic individuals with abundant energy in the upcoming presidential election. However, she did not disclose her intentions regarding her future involvement in politics after the conclusion of her presidential term.

Currently, the leading political parties in Slovakia have yet to announce their presidential candidates, as their focus lies primarily on the forthcoming early elections scheduled for September 30. Jan Kubis, a former foreign minister, has been reported to be contemplating a presidential bid. Ivan Korcok, another former foreign minister, previously declared that he would not run for the presidency if Caputova were among the candidates.

Caputova’s tenure as president has been marked by verbal attacks from various politicians, including representatives of former Prime Minister Robert Fico’s Smer-SD party and Igor Matovic, the head of the largest party in parliament, Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLaNO). Fico has previously accused Caputova of being a U.S. agent and claimed that she receives instructions from the U.S. embassy. Lubos Blaha, the current deputy chairman of Smer-SD, was even legally prohibited from referring to Caputova as a U.S. agent or traitor. Matovic, who resigned as prime minister in 2021, has also targeted the president with verbal assaults.

Zuzana Caputova’s predecessor, Andrej Kiska, also opted not to seek re-election for a second term. In the parliamentary elections held in February 2020, Kiska led his own For the People party, which subsequently became the smallest party in parliament. Kiska did not take up his seat as a Member of Parliament and later announced his retirement from politics due to health concerns. The majority of For the People party members left, with many joining the SaS group in parliament.

As the political landscape in Slovakia continues to evolve, the decision of Zuzana Caputova not to pursue re-election in 2024 marks a significant development in the country’s political sphere. Her presidency has been characterized by her commitment to European values, support for Ukraine, and an unwavering emphasis on the rule of law. Slovakia now looks ahead to the upcoming elections, as the search for the next president begins and political parties prepare their strategies for the future.

Article by Prague Forum

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