Anticorruption activist and political newcomer Zuzana Caputova won the first round in Slovakia’s presidential election and will now face second-place Maros Sefcovic, who is backed by the ruling Direction-Social Democracy (Smer-SD) party.
The Slovak Statistics Office on March 17 said Caputova, an environmental lawyer, had 40.5 percent of the vote with nearly all ballots counted.
Sefcovic, the European Commission vice president, received 18.7 percent.
With no candidate receiving more than 50 percent, a runoff will be held on March 30.
Pro-Russia candidate Stefan Harabin was third with 14.4 percent.
Incumbent President Andrej Kiska is not standing for a second five-year term in the largely ceremonial post.
The pro-Europe Caputova, 45, a member of the Progresivne Slovensko party, recently told news website Aktuality.sk that Russian President Vladimir Putin's policies are "a threat not only to Slovakia, but also to the whole of Europe.”
She is vying to become the country's first female president.
Sefcovic, 52, an independent backed by Smer-SD, told Aktuality.sk that “Russia’s current relations with the international community -- of which Slovakia is a firm part -- are complicated and I would wish for their improvement."
The election comes in the aftermath of the murder of investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee in February 2018. The couple, both 27, were found shot dead at their home near the capital, Bratislava.
The journalist was investigating political corruption at the time of the slayings, which triggered the biggest street protests in Slovakia since the fall of communism in 1989 and a political crisis that led to the collapse of former Prime Minister Robert Fico's government.