President Pahor re-elected in close race
Ljubljana, 5 December - Borut Pahor, a 54-year-old former social democrat leader, won his second term as Slovenia's president in a surprisingly tight run-off vote on 12 November. The only Slovenian politician to have served as speaker, prime minister and president, Pahor secured 53% of the vote to beat Kamnik Mayor Marjan Šarec, a 39-year-old former comedian with no experience in politics at the national level. Pahor had been favoured to win an outright majority in the first round, which saw a total of nine contestants, but mustered only 47%, with 25% going to Šarec. Campaigning relied heavily on communication through social media and direct contacts with people on the ground with Pahor portraying himself as a politically experienced and uniting figure, and Šarec pitching himself as an anti-establishment doer. Nevertheless, Šarec had to face the accusation that his bid had been orchestrated by old power structures, whereas Pahor came under attack from former President Milan Kučan and his ideological nemesis Janez Janša, as well as a group of left-wing academics who denounced him for cheapening the president's role. The vote had been perceived as a dress rehearsal for the general election in 2018, but only three parliamentary parties joined the race with their own candidates. The conservative opposition made some mark with SDS MEP Romana Tomc (13.74%) and NSi leader Ljudmila Novak (7.15%), while Education Minister Maja Makovec Brenčič won less than 2% for the ruling SMC. Its coalition partners SD and DeSUS played a safer bet by endorsing Pahor, joined by the NSi just before the run-off. Both rounds were marred by record low turnout at 43.57% and 42%.