Slovenian leader Borut Pahor will compete against comedian-turned-mayor Marjan Sarec for the presidency in a runoff despite winning the first round by a wide margin. Pahor won 47 percent, the election commission in the euro-area country of 2 million people said on Sunday. That fell short of the majority needed to clinch re-election in the first round. Sarec was runner up with 25 percent, and the two will face off again on Nov. 12. Forced out of government six years ago, when voters rejected his plan to address a financial crisis that almost drove the country into a Greece-like international bailout, Pahor, 53, has staged a comeback. He was elected to the mostly ceremonial presidency a year later and has built a strong lead in opinion polls.
A former fashion model who has built support via a slick campaign on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, Pahor has connected with voters by hiking 700 kilometers (430 miles) across Slovenia. That wasn’t enough for an outright victory. His opponents say the approach underscored how much he’s avoided making tough decisions on national issues including health care, a 2013 government-led bank rescue and a shakeup at the country’s anti-corruption commission.
“Pahor got almost double the votes that Sarec attracted, and that will be difficult to catch up in the second round,” Otilia Dhand, an analyst at Teneo Intelligence in Brussels, said by email. “Sarec would basically have to get all the votes cast for other candidates in the first round to win.”