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Slovakia's First Woman President, Another Velvet Revolution?

Zuzana Čaputová becomes the country's first female head of state, and brings hope to Slovaks looking to end to corruption and to others for a response to populism across Europe.

Čaputová is pro-Europe and an environmentalist
Čaputová is pro-Europe and an environmentalist
Viktoria Großmann


With Zuzana Čaputová, Slovakia enters the world political stage as a bearer of hope. Nothing similar has happened in Central Europe since Václav Havel became president of Czechoslovakia after the Velvet Revolution.

Čaputová, who is liberal and pro-European, won the election in Slovakia by a clear margin becoming the country's first female president. It is a major shake-up — one that was overdue and comes from a nation that is largely fed up with its politicians; a nation that held regular protests against corruption and abuse of power; a nation that distrusted a prime minister and ministers with connections to criminal networks. One of them is even charged with the murder of a journalist and his fiancé.

Now, the rebelling citizens have succeeded in electing a head of state who challenges certain established ideas in Catholic-influenced Slovakia: A 45-year-old divorced woman with two teenage girls; a lawyer with no political experience who is both realistic and friendly and is committed to protecting the environment, minorities, and other marginalized populations. She touched many with her honesty and openness. Others she convinced with reasoned arguments.

Is Slovakia, with its 5.5 million inhabitants, facing a new upheaval 30 years after the Velvet Revolution? Čaputová promises fairness, justice and decency. Everything indicates that she is serious. She has already struck a new, softer tone without personal attacks, without controversy. Fans and commentators now often repeat Václav Havel's sentence: "Truth and love triumph over lies and hatred."

There are overwhelmingly high expectations.

Indeed, Čaputová says she's inspired by the legendary late president and has become a role model in the neighboring Czech Republic. A new, clean generation of Slovaks should now seize the opportunity to fulfill Havel's legacy. It is in their hands to finally leave behind the authoritarian state and political aberrations and to work towards a fairer, more democratic political system.

There are overwhelmingly high expectations of the new head of state. Her supporters hope that she will put an end to the era of Robert Fico, who was forced to resign as prime minister a year ago but continues to pull the strings as the leader of the Direction - Social Democracy (SMER-SD) ruling party. Now Fico wants to extend his influence by becoming president of the Constitutional Court. As president, Čaputová will not agree. She wants to use all, albeit small, opportunities to introduce a new style of politics, which should also rub off on the government.

Still, hope for change is tempered by the turnout: Only 42% of voters showed up to the polls. The fact that the approximately one million Slovaks living abroad could not vote is only part of the explanation. Obviously, the spirit of optimism that emanates from Čaputová and the Progressive Slovakia movement still has not yet reached many corners. Convincing more citizens that change is possible will be the new president's biggest task. Her election does not yet translate into real change. But it is a clear and encouraging signal for a new beginning.

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Look At This Crap! The "Enshittification" Theory Of Why The Internet Is Broken

The term was coined by journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the fatal drift of major Internet platforms: if they were ever useful and user-friendly, they will inevitably end up being odious.

A photo of hands holding onto a smartphone

A person holding their smartphone

Gilles Lambert/ZUMA
Manuel Ligero


The universe tends toward chaos. Ultimately, everything degenerates. These immutable laws are even more true of the Internet.

In the case of media platforms, everything you once thought was a good service will, sooner or later, disgust you. This trend has been given a name: enshittification. The term was coined by Canadian blogger and journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the inevitable drift of technological giants toward... well.

The explanation is in line with the most basic tenets of Marxism. All digital companies have investors (essentially the bourgeoisie, people who don't perform any work and take the lion's share of the profits), and these investors want to see the percentage of their gains grow year after year. This pushes companies to make decisions that affect the service they provide to their customers. Although they don't do it unwillingly, quite the opposite.

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Annoying customers is just another part of the business plan. Look at Netflix, for example. The streaming giant has long been riddling how to monetize shared Netflix accounts. Option 1: adding a premium option to its regular price. Next, it asked for verification through text messages. After that, it considered raising the total subscription price. It also mulled adding advertising to the mix, and so on. These endless maneuvers irritated its audience, even as the company has been unable to decide which way it wants to go. So, slowly but surely, we see it drifting toward enshittification.

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