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Polls open in Slovenia’s presidential runoff

Slovenians have started going to the polls in a presidential election runoff between incumbent President Borut Pahor and the mayor of the city of Kamnik, Marjan Sarec.

According to pre-election polls, Pahor was in the lead and would get between 52 to 56.3 percent of the votes on Sunday.

In the first round, Pahor, who is running for a second five-year term, got about 47 percent of the votes among nine candidates, with Sarec, who is a former comedian, coming in second with almost 25 percent.

The 54-year-old Pahor, who was a former fashion model, is known in the country as “the king of the Instagram.” He posts photos of himself taken during his office hours or while practicing various sports on the social media platform.

He is a former prime minister and a long-time leader of the center-left Social Democrats, although he is running as an independent candidate now.

During Pahor’s 2008-2012 term as prime minister, the country saw its worst financial crisis in Slovenia’s history. In 2013, the country managed to only narrowly avoid an international bailout for its banks, burdened by a large amount of debt.

This image shows a Slovenian senior citizen casting her vote at a polling station in the first round of the presidential election in Sempeter pri Novi Gorici, Slovenia, on October 22, 2017. (By AFP)

Pahor has vowed to focus on “connecting people, cooperation, political stability, and security.”

Sarec, 39, says he plans to improve the economy and create better lives for its people. He advocated change toward those goals. He is supported by his own non-parliamentary, center-left party Lista Marjana Sarca, which has so far only been active on a local level.

The role of the president is mainly ceremonial in Slovenia, although he leads the army and nominates candidates for some key posts, which then have to be approved by the parliament.

Polls are due to close at 1800 GMT, and preliminary results are expected around 2000 GMT.

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