On 30th March, Zuzana Čaputová was elected as Slovakia’s President with 58.4% of the vote. When she is inaugurated on 15th June, she will simultaneously become the country’s youngest-ever President and its first female. Her victory marks a triumph for liberalism and progressive politics in a region which is known for conservatism and populism.
The link to the waste industry? Prior to her political campaign, Zuzana Čaputová was a lawyer who won a 14-year legal battle, culminating in the European Court of Justice, representing the residents of her home town Pezinok against the municipal authority’s attempt to establish a landfill close to a residential area. It was a fight, not against the waste industry though, but against corruption.
Waste is a lucrative avenue for organised crime in Eastern Europe, with a plentiful supply of land for landfill sites that is cheaper than in Western Europe and a plentiful supply of illegal waste that can prove to be a good source of revenue for those who can dispose of it.
Slovakia’s President-elect is a strong supporter of the EU and it would come as no surprise to see this allegiance rewarded with an inflow of EU funding for development – with legitimate waste infrastructure projects being a key recipient.
Landfill has been Slovakia’s main method of waste disposal since 2010 (see graphic).