Former Slovenian PM poised to win presidential race

By bne IntelliNews November 29, 2012

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Slovenians, weary of recession and government austerity measures, are expected to elect opposition Social Democratic leader Borut Pahor over the incumbent non-aligned President Danilo Turk in the country's presidential election run-off on December 2, opinion polls showed.

A survey by the daily Dnevnik newspaper a week ahead of the vote gave Pahor, a former prime minister, an edge of 53.1% to 31.6% of the votes, with 15.3% of those polled still undecided. The majority of those undecided, however, said they favour Pahor.

In a turn-up for the books, the incumbent Slovenian president, Danilo Turk, not only failed to win a clear majority in the November 11 presidential election, but was pushed into second place. Pahor surprisingly won 40% of the ballots in the first round, ahead of Turk's 36%, and the ruling conservative Democratic Party's candidate Milan Zver with 24% of the votes.

Chosen for a five-year term, the presidency is a largely ceremonial post, though the president heads the army and proposes the central bank chief. The latter is an especially sensitive task considering the severe financial crisis, which has left the banks struggling under huge amount of bad loans and the economy back in recession.

The economy entered a second recession in 2011 - the first new EU member state to do so. With the economy forecast to contract another 2.3% this year and the banking sector being crushed by €6.5bn of bad loans, which is about 18% of annual GDP, Slovenia was odds-on favourite to be the next Eurozone country to ask the EU and International Monetary Fund for a bailout.

Pahor has tried to build his political camp on the centre ground and aimed to pick up votes from those on the right who see him as the lesser of two evils. The rigours of the austerity programme of the Democratic government has meant that many see the Pahor's four-year government in a more favourable light.

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