Liberal rights advocate Natasa Pirc Musar has won a run-off to become Slovenia’s first female head of state, saying she will seek to bridge the deep left-right divide in the Alpine nation of two million.
With nearly all of the votes counted in the small European Union nation on Sunday, Pirc Musar led Slovenia’s conservative former Foreign Minister Anze Logar by 54 percent to 46 percent.
Her victory boosts the country’s liberal bloc following the centre-left coalition victory in Slovenia’s parliamentary election in April.
“My first task will be to open a dialogue among all Slovenians,” she said as her election team celebrated. “In the democratic election, Slovenians have shown what kind of a country they want.”
“All my life I’ve advocated the same values: democracy, human rights, tolerance. It’s time to stop dealing with the past. Many things have to be done in the future,” she declared.
Rival concedes defeat
Logar conceded defeat, saying he hopes Pirc Musar “will carry out all the promises” that she made during the campaign.
Pirc Musar, 54, will be the first woman to serve as president since Slovenia became independent amid the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991.
A prominent lawyer, Pirc Musar had represented former US First Lady Melania Trump in copyright and other cases in her native Slovenia.
She trailed Logar in the first round of voting two weeks ago. But since none of the seven contenders who competed in the first round managed to gather more than 50 percent support to claim outright victory, Logar and Pirc Musar went to a run-off.
Analysts in Slovenia had predicted that centrist and liberal voters would rally behind Pirc Musar.
Pirc Musar will succeed President Borut Pahor, a centrist politician who has served two terms.
While the presidency is largely ceremonial in Slovenia, the head of state is still seen as a person of authority.
Presidents appoint members of the anti-corruption commission and nominate prime ministers as well as members of the constitutional court before they are elected in parliament.
Logar, 46, served under former populist Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who moved Slovenia to the right while in power and faced accusations of undemocratic and divisive policies.
Jansa was removed from power in the parliamentary election in April.