Can Slovakia Really Turn Back the Populist Tide in Central Europe?

Can Slovakia Really Turn Back the Populist Tide in Central Europe?
Slovakia’s newly elected president, Zuzana Caputova, arrives for a television interview in front of the Presidential Palace in Bratislava, Slovakia, March 31, 2019 (AP photo by Petr David Josek).

The election of Zuzana Caputova as Slovakia’s first female president last month was a landmark in more ways than one. The win by the 45-year-old lawyer and activist represented a liberal turn in Central Europe, where right-leaning, populist governments have been in power for several years.

Much of the news coverage since Caputova’s victory has framed Slovakia as a great liberal hope that could push back populism and resurgent nationalism in the region, if not across the continent. But can this small state, which has endured political upheaval over the past year, really deliver on that lofty promise?

The election of Caputova, a single mother and political novice, was driven by a protest movement unleashed by the killing of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancé, Martina Kusnirova, back in February 2018. The murder is widely understood to have been provoked by his reporting on organized crime and political corruption. In early April, a former soldier, Miroslav Marcek, confessed to the brutal murders. The details of the criminal conspiracy behind the assassination, including suspected ties to the government, continue to shake Slovak society as they emerge.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.