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Sunday, 1 December, 2002, 22:31 GMT
Slovenian PM wins presidential poll
Slovenians cast their vote
The election's first round was held three weeks ago

Slovenia's centre-left Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek has won the second round of presidential elections.

Drnovsek
Drnovsek: Cementing ties with the West

He scored 56%, ahead of his challenger, Barbara Brezigar, with 43%.

Mr Drnovsek, who heads the Liberal Democrats, is backed by the outgoing Slovenian President, Milan Kucan, who led the country to independence from Yugoslavia.

Like Mr Kucan, Mr Drnovsek has dominated Slovene politics since independence. He has been prime minister for most of the last 10 years.

The Slovenian Finance Minister, Anton Rop, also a member of the Liberal Democrats, is expected to replace him as prime minister.

Mr Drnovsek's challenger, supreme state prosecutor Barbara Brezigar, had pushed for change in the political establishment. She ran as an independent candidate, but was backed by the centre-right opposition.

Healthy economy

The new president will have the task of negotiating the country's entry into the European Union and Nato.

Slovenia, with its healthy economy, stable democracy and low unemployment, is one of the best prepared EU candidate countries and is almost certain to join in 2004.

The vote marks the end of an era for Slovenia, with the retirement of President Kucan, referred to by many Slovenes as "the father of the nation".

See also:

11 Nov 02 | Europe
15 Jun 01 | Europe
02 Oct 02 | Country profiles
01 Mar 02 | Europe
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