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Slovenia Ex-PM Borut Pahor Wins Presidential Run-Off

12/3/2012 5:45 AM ET

Former Slovenian Premier Borut Pahor has secured a landslide victory in Sunday's presidential run-off, according to results announced by the country's election commission after nearly all ballots were counted.

The results, announced after counting 99.7 percent of the votes, indicated that Pahor, a member of the Opposition Social Democrats, gettibg about 67 percentage of the votes polled. In comparison, his lone rival and incumbent President Danilo Turk secured only 33 percent.

Notably, voter turnout in the run-off, which was marred by protests over the economy and alleged government corruption, was reportedly only 31 percent of the country's 1.7 million eligible voters. Analysts believe that indifference of the electorate to the polls contributed immensely to the ex-PM's victory.

The Slovenian Press Agency reported that Danilo Turk conceded defeat and congratulated Pahor on his electoral triumph. Turk, who was seeking a second term in office, was quoted as saying that he would remain an "active citizen" after his term officially ends in three weeks.

Pahor assured his supporters that he would do everything in his power as the country's new President to ensure that the former Yugoslav Republic emerged from the ongoing economic crisis and recession as soon as possible.

"The moment when Slovenian men and women, citizens of Slovenia, beat this crisis - and we will beat it eventually - we will again have the confidence we felt when we established our country and we will rise among the stars of Europe," Pahor was quoted as telling his supporters after the results were declared.

Sunday's presidential run-off was forced after no candidate managed to secure the minimum required 50 percent of the votes polled in the first round, which was the fifth of its kind in Slovenia after it declared independence in 1991.

Slovenia's presidency, with a five-year term, is largely a ceremonial post. Nevertheless, the President is seen as the head of state as well as the custodian of the national Constitution and the supreme commander of the country's armed forces.

Pahor was Slovenia's Prime Minister from 2008 to 2011, when he forced to step down after his Cabinet lost a confidence vote in the Parliament over its continued failure to address the deepening political and economic crisis. He was succeeded by current Prime Minister Janez Jansa in February 2012.

Recent data released by the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia showed that the country's economy slid into recession in the third quarter with two successive quarters of contraction. Notably, the euro area member's economy has shrunk by more than eight percent since 2009.

The conservative government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa has initiated several unpopular austerity measures to address the situation. The government plans to raise the retirement age, ease rules on hiring and firing of employees, cut down public-sector wages and social benefits as parts of its efforts to narrow the budget deficit, which is projected to touch 4.2 percent of national output this year.

The planned austerity measures have stirred protests and strikes across the country, which many believe took the public focus off the presidential polls. Officials say at least 33 people were charged on Friday for clashing with police in the capital Ljubljana. Similar violent protests occurred earlier in the week in Maribor, the country's second largest city.

by RTT Staff Writer

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