(Bloomberg) — Slovenians are voting Sunday for a new president who may consolidate the position of the left-leaning government or give ousted nationalist leader Janez Jansa an opening to exert his influence on the euro zone state.
With the war in Ukraine roiling Europe’s economy and providing populists an opportunity to steer voters toward euroskeptic positions, former Foreign Minister Anze Logar, a member of Jansa’s right-wing Slovenian Democratic Party, leads opinion polls before Sunday’s first round ballot.
Polling stations will close at 7 p.m., followed immediately by an exit poll. Almost complete results are expected later in the evening.
That could complicate efforts by Prime Minister Robert Golob to dismantle the changes made by Jansa, who swept out the leadership of key institutions and state-run companies before left-wing parties unseated him in April elections.
Golob is now trying to shore up support by focusing on ensuring energy security in the European Union and NATO member state of 2.1 million. He is also pushing forward with liberal projects, including adopting a law that made Slovenia the first eastern EU member to legalize both marriage and adoption for same-sex couples.
While Logar leads polls with about 30%, according to the Mediana pollster, but surveys show no candidate has enough support to win the first round. That sets the stage for a Nov. 13 runoff ballot for the largely ceremonial role.
If he takes the most first-round votes as expected, he will face off with either former information watchdog and lawyer Natasa Pirc Musar, who with about 21% has the chance to become Slovenia’s first woman president. Former Parliament Speaker Milan Brlez, who has the backing of the ruling Freedom Movement party, is close behind.
Left-wing candidates, including incumbent Borut Pahor, who can’t run for a third term, have traditionally prevailed in Slovenian presidential runoffs.
Slovenian presidents take the role of official head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces and name constitutional judges and central bank governors. Despite that, most decisions on policy are made by the prime minister and backed by parliament.