Slovenians voted Sunday in a second poll expected to elect the country’s first female president – a lawyer associated with former US first lady Melania Trump.
Natasa Pirc Musar, backed by the centre-left government, is taking on ex-Foreign Minister Anze Logar, a veteran of conservative politics, in the EU country of two million.
A lawyer, Ms Pirc Musar, was hired to protect the interests of Slovenian-born Melania Trump during her husband’s presidency, by stopping companies that wanted to market products with her name.
She is expected to win just over 50 percent of the vote, ahead of Anze Logar, who will get between 44 and 49 percent according to the latest polls.
Ms Pirc Musar, who headed the country’s data protection authority for ten years, says her victory would make her “the voice of women” in Slovenia and abroad.
While the president’s role is largely ceremonial, the human rights lawyer has vowed to be a “moral authority.”
“The president can’t be neutral…and have no opinion…I’ve never been afraid to speak out,” the 54-year-old former TV host told AFP.
Ms Pirc Musar, an avid motorcyclist, has been attacked for her husband’s lucrative investments, especially in tax havens.
Her opponent, Mr Logar, 46, was also independent but a longtime member of Janez Jansa’s Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), which failed to win reelection as prime minister in April.
“I started this campaign to win,” Anze Logar said, casting his vote in the capital Ljubljana.
Critics accused Jansa of attacking media freedom and the judiciary and undermining the rule of law during his last term in office.
Mr. Logar plays the cello and is an avid mountaineer who cycled to the presidential debates.
“It’s good if the president represents a different point of view from the ruling coalition — (it) creates more balance … which is better for a democratic system,” Logar told AFP ahead of Sunday’s vote.
Newspaper columnist Uros Esih said Ms. Pirc Musar has surrounded herself with “strong advisers”, which allow her to compete with the relatively more experienced Logar.
But Mr Logar would be “more likely just an instrument” of Jansa’s party, Uros Esih said.
“I hope a candidate who brings people together will win,” Rok Novak, an economist in his early 50s, said at a polling station in Ljubljana.
“Slovenia is so polarized right now.”
Mr Logar took first in the first round last month when centre-left votes were largely split between Ms Pirc Musar and another candidate.
Analysts say low turnout favors Mr Logar, but polls predict that about half of those eligible to vote will vote, like in the first round, giving Ms Pirc Musar the lead.
Polling stations in the former Yugoslav republic will open at 7:00 AM (0600 GMT) and close at 7:00 PM, with partial results expected later in the day.
Incumbent Borut Pahor, a former Social Democrat, was unable to run for re-election after serving in the post for two five-year stints.
Retired Silva Lotric was optimistic when she cast her vote.
“I hope my candidate will win…if my candidate wins, she will definitely bring changes,” in the role of the president.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)
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