Slovakia's Erin Brockovich wins more trust ahead of presidential vote

The lawyer Zuzana Caputova, 45, surged into the lead to become Slovakia's president on a wave of popular fury at graft, a year after the murder of the investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, news wires reported. Few days ahead of the vote on 16 March she has more than 50% support.

A political novice, Caputova was called “Slovakia's Erin Brockovich” for leading the fight against an illegal landfill in her hometown, with echoes of the plot of a film with Oscar winner Julia Roberts.

Caputova leapt suddenly last week into a firm first place in the presidential polls, after another opposition candidate withdrew and backed her. Her message has resonated with voters who have turned against the ruling Smer party, which has dominated the country politically as the biggest group in parliament since 2006. The election will be the first since Smer leader Robert Fico, prime minister for 10 of the previous 12 years, was forced to step down as premier after mass demonstrations that followed the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak.

Although the president does not wield day-to-day political power, the job could prove pivotal in rooting out corruption, since the president has veto power over the appointments of senior prosecutors and judges. Outgoing President Andrej Kiska defeated Fico in a run-off in the last presidential vote in 2014 but is not running again and backs Caputova.

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