The post of the president of Slovakia was created in 1993 when the country became independent from the former Czechoslovakia. The President is directly elected by the people for five years and is eligible to serve for only two terms. The President is the leader of the state and has largely ceremonial powers that are exercised at his/her discretion. Michal Kováč was elected by a national council as the first president of Slovakia. However, upon the expiry of his term, they were unable to choose the successor leaving the position vacant for about a year. During that time, the duties were transferred to the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the National Council. There was also a forced constitutional amendment so that the position is filled through a direct election by the citizens. Since then, there have been elections in 1999, 2004, 2009, 2014, and 2019. Zuzana Čaputová is the current President of Slovakia.
Presidents of Slovakia Since 1993
Michal Kováč (1993-1998)
Kováč served from 1993 to 1998 having been elected by the National Council. He was an economist and worked with a number of banks before finally getting into politics. He also spent some time in Cuba and London in the 1960s. Before the split of the former Czechoslovakia, he had served as a minister in the previous governments. He was one of the key leaders pushing for the independence of the country. His leadership is remembered for the intense rivalry with the PM which culminated in the kidnapping of his son. He became ineligible for the first direct election.
Rudolf Schuster (1999-2004)
Schuster was the president from 1999 to 2004. He was elected on May 29th, 1999 in the first direct elections in the country. He was inaugurated on June 15th the same year. He later ran for reelection in 2004 but was defeated badly only managing less than 8% of the votes. Before his election to the Presidency, he had served in a number of mayoral positions when the country was still united as Czechoslovakia. He also got assigned as ambassador to some countries.
Ivan Gašparovič (2004-2014)
Gašparovič was the President for two terms from 2004 to 2009 and 2009 to 2014. He replaced Rudolf Schuster after having won the 2004 poll. During his presidency, he adopted a non-confrontational approach to politics that greatly increased his popularity. He remains unapologetic for his role in the reign of Mecair that is widely seen to have set the country back in terms of economic development.
Andrej Kiska (2014-2019)
Kiska served as president from 2014 to 2019. He ran as an independent candidate and beat very many mainstream candidates of the established political parties. After the initial vote was rejected as none of the candidates had received over 50% of votes, a presidential runoff was held. Kiska obtained 60% of the votes in the second round and took office in June 2014. Although polls showed that Kiska would have been a frontrunner in the 2019 election, he decided not to run for a second term.
Zuzana Čaputová (2019-Present)
Čaputová won the 2019 election with 58% of the votes to become both the youngest President (45 years of age) and the first female President. Čaputová took office on June 15, 2019. Čaputová received the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2016 for her role in the Pezinok landfill affair.
Significance of the Presidency
The presidents have been seen as unifying factors for the country. They have also served as neutralizing figures in the cases when the PMs have adopted extreme stances on critical issues in the country.