Slovenian PM leads presidential election

Eugene Brcic
Monday 11 November 2002 01:00

Slovenia's Prime Minister dominated presidential elections yesterday, bolstered by his push to align the tiny nation with western Europe, early results showed.

Janez Drnovsek, 52, won support with a pragmatic style that has steered the country away from the intrigues of the Balkans and into the European mainstream. With 65 per cent of the vote counted, the State Electoral Commission gave him 44.8 per cent of the vote, just short of the 50 per cent needed to avoid a run-off.

"I am optimistic about the second round," Mr Drnovsek said. "I am glad that so many people support me at this stage." His closest challenger was Barbara Brezigar, a state prosecutor, with 31 per cent. "I am very pleased with the results," Mrs Brezigar said. "I think we need to see new people leading this country."

The race will choose the successor to Milan Kucan, the leader credited with bringing Slovenia independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Mr Kucan, 61, is barred by the constitution from seeking a third term.

Mr Drnovsek was among nine candidates who sought the ceremonial post. If there is no outright winner, the two top candidates will face off in a second round of voting on 1 December. (AP)

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