President Zuzana Čaputová has chosen three issues that deserve special attention.
The president aims to exert maximum pressure for immediate and systematic changes in the police, prosecution service and judiciary. She is convinced that the police force must function as an independent institution free from political influence, under the leadership of a professional rather than a lackey of the minister of interior. As the president sees it, the prosecution service needs to be reformed into an institution under public control similar to the judiciary.
The president is convinced that there remain many good and dedicated prosecutors despite the department’s stifling climate. She believes that Slovakia needs a modern prosecution service that gives these professionals space to grow and achieve progress.
Big changes are also needed in the justice system. For example, courts should specialise in specific areas of law to reduce the length of court proceedings. The president sees the appointment of judges and constitutional judges as an extremely important decision because the job requires not only professional qualification but also ethics and a firm moral foundation.
Long-term care for seniors has become an acute problem in Slovakia.
Compared to neighbouring countries, it has a shortage of facilities of every type, fewer places and fewer qualified staff, who are themselves underpaid.
Tens of thousands of care workers are leaving Slovakia. The public system for long-term nursing care is choking in red tape. This leads to long waiting periods and demeaning conditions. This problem will only increase because Slovakia’s population is aging the third fastest in the EU.
The president insists on fundamental change in care for seniors. The goal should be to ensure that as few clients as possible spend time in institutional care and as many as possible receive care in their own home or smaller establishments. This requires the creation of a flexible legal framework and financial incentives.
The president will also exert systematic pressure on the government and regional authorities to increase spending on public care services and pay. She also considers it important to simplify the system of social and medical assessments of clients: the state must rebuild a single, integrated system of social and medical care.
Furthermore, Slovakia must make much more use of innovative procedures, from special bracelets through modifications of the home to voluntary services.
Previous experience has convinced the president that environmental protection cannot remain a marginal issue in politics.
Slovakia’s forests are extremely vulnerable. Previous governments have allowed a few businesses to cut down forests on a massive, often illegal scale. Insensitive logging has caused permanent disruption of many rare ecosystems, including some that are in national parks.
Another crucial point is that deforestation increases the risk of flooding. Another large problem besides deforestation is threats to water resources. This is the result not only of the neglect of old environmental burdens but also the use of harmful pesticides and the large volumes of waste that firms and individuals release into the water.
The president urges that at least the most ecologically valuable 5% of Slovakia’s territory should be preserved as a non-interference zone. This means 75% of the area of the existing national parks and national nature reserves.
She also asks that Slovakia should take strong and radical measures against waste production and promote stricter regulation of potentially hazardous waste disposal sites.
She supports all proposals for limiting the use of plastics, including compulsory deposit schemes, as well as other initiatives for transitioning to a circular economy.