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Slovakia elects political novice as president

Andrej Kiska, a millionaire philanthropist, trounces current PM, Robert Fico, in run-off vote for the presidency.

Last updated: 30 Mar 2014 02:00
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Andrej Kiska will hold a largely ceremonial role [Reuters]

A millionaire philanthropist and political newcomer has trounced Slovakia's veteran prime minister in the race to become the next president, according to nearly complete results.

Results from more than 99 percent of districts on Saturday showed Andrej Kiska, a politically unaligned businessman who has given most of his fortune to charity, leading Robert Fico by 59.4 percent to 40.6 percent in the run-off election.

I want to re-establish the people's trust into the presidential office.

Andrej Kiska, president-elect

A Fico victory would have given his Smer party full control of political life in Slovakia. Kiska campaigned on the argument that Slovakia needed a counterweight to Smer, endearing him to disillusioned left-wing voters and right-wing opponents of Smer.

In a victory speech in Bratislava, Kiska said: "In a little while, I will become the new president. I will be the president of all, I will stand behind every honest Slovak. This is a great commitment."

"I want to re-establish the people's trust into the presidential office. I want to make the politics more human." 

Fico conceded the election and congratulated his challenger.

"I would like to congratulate [Kiska], although not all the votes have been counted yet," said Fico, who will likely keep his role as prime minister.

Kiska, 51, is a non-aligned centrist who made his fortune in the loans business. He will be Slovakia's first president since independence in 1993 without a past in the Communist party.

Fico and Kiska advanced to the run-off after leading the first round of voting on March 15. Kiska will succeed Ivan Gasparovic, the current president, in June.

The Slovak presidency is largely ceremonial, but the president has the power to pick the prime minister, appoint senior court judges and veto laws. A parliamentary majority can override vetoes, however.

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