Ex-UN diplomat wins Slovenia polls

Opposition-backed candidate's big victory shows deep discontent with government.

    More than 68 per cent of voters chose the opposition-
    backed independent Danilo Turk [EPA]
    Boost to opposition
     
    Borut Hocevar, a political analyst at newspaper Zurnal 24, told Reuters: "This result is definitely a strong warning to the government. People are unhappy because of the mistakes it made and particularly because of high inflation."

    The result is a boost to the opposition social democrats before parliamentary elections due in late 2008.
     
    Peterle, a member of the European parliament, conceded defeat.
     

    Turk, seen with his wife, Barbara, called
    for Slovenians to unite [EPA]

    "I congratulate Mr Turk on his victory," he said. "I wish him all the best in leading the country for the next five years."
     
    Turk, Slovenia's former ambassador to the UN and then UN assistant secretary-general for political affairs, said after exit polls were shown: "I'm very happy with the results as they appear now. I want to be a president who is uniting people."
     
    He added: "My message to the Slovenian people is, 'Let's work together for the further improvement of our country in all fields'."
     
    Maintaining alliances
     
    Turk, an associate dean at the Ljubljana law faculty, will succeed Janez Drnovsek, a popular left-winger who did not seek a second five-year mandate.
     
    The job of president is largely ceremonial but it carries authority in some defence and foreign affairs matters.
     
    Final results should be available by November 20 and the president sworn in shortly before the small but wealthy former communist country assumes the rotating EU presidency on January 1.
     
    Turk is not expected to change Slovenia's alliance with Europe, telling the EU that "Slovenia is your solid, faithful and credible partner".
     
    "Rely on us, and we'll be a good president of the European Union next year," Turk said.
     
    He is also expected to maintain Slovenia's alliance with the US even though he was highly critical of the war in Iraq.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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