Slovenians choose president as Pahor seeks re-election

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — Slovenians were voting in a presidential election Sunday that is expected to be an easy re-election for President Borut Pahor, a veteran politician and former model known for his use of social media.

Some 1.7 million voters were choosing among nine presidential candidates — including five women — for the largely ceremonial but influential post. This nation in Central Europe is a member of the European Union and the homeland of U.S. first lady Melania Trump.

Slovenia’s presidency holds no executive powers but the president proposes the prime minister, who runs the government, and the president’s opinion carries weight on important issues.

Pre-election surveys say the 53-year-old Pahor could possibly win a majority of votes and avoid a runoff. His main opponent is Marjan Sarec, a former comedian who is the mayor of the northern town of Kamnik.

Upon voting Sunday, Pahor said he knew that no president in 20 years in Slovenia has won a second term in office. But he said “we did so much in five years” that it was worth trying to seek re-election.

Pahor has been nicknamed Slovenia’s “King of Instagram” for his frequent presence on social media. He walked about 700 kilometers (420 miles) during the presidential campaign, posting photos and short videos all along the way.

Critics think Pahor has degraded the presidency by turning himself into a celebrity.

Sarec starred in Slovenian satirical shows until he mounted an independent bid for mayor in 2010 and won against an established candidate. The 39-year-old is serving his second term as mayor.

Other presidential candidates include Romana Tomc, a tax expert backed by the conservatives; Ljudmila Novak, a former teacher who leads the New Slovenia Christian-Democrats; and Angelca Likovic, who is promoting Catholic Christian values.

Key topics facing Slovenia include the economy and a border dispute with neighboring Croatia stemming from the 1990s’ breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

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