November 13, 2017 / 1:24 PM / 2 years ago

Anti-elite Slovene presidential candidate seen running for parliament after narrow loss

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Anti-establishment Slovenian presidential candidate Marjan Sarec, who narrowly lost to President Borut Pahor in an election runoff on Sunday, is likely to run for parliament in general elections due next June, political analysts said.

Presidential candidate Marjan Sarec casts his ballot at a polling station during the second round of the presidential election in Kamnik, Slovenia November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Borut Zivulovic

“I expect Sarec to announce his candidacy very soon. He might win, supported by a large number of voters who are dissatisfied with the political establishment,” Tanja Staric, an analyst at Radio Slovenia, told Reuters on Monday.

Sarec finished with 47 percent to Pahor’s 53 percent in the runoff, the tightest presidential race result since Slovenia’s independence in 1991 from then-federal Yugoslavia.

Sarec, 39, whose center-left Lista Marjana Sarca has so far been active only at local level, indicated he will run for parliament. “My result (at the presidential election) is very good, I am very happy with it...This is not my last word in politics,” he said on his Twitter account late on Sunday.

Sarec says changes of approach are needed to further improve Slovenia’s economy and lift living standards. In an anti-establishment pitch, he calls for politicians to listen to voters closely and come up with practical solutions to their problems. He also wants electoral rule changes to allow people to vote for individual candidates rather than parties.

Sarec is a former actor and comedian whose second mandate as mayor of Kamnik in northern Slovenia expires next year.

Analysts forecast election defeat next year for the Party of Modern Centre of Prime Minister Miro Cerar because of widespread dissatisfaction, particularly over lengthening waiting times for examinations and other procedures in the national health system.

The government faces pressure for public sector wage hikes but wants to keep a lid on spending given relatively high levels of budget deficit and public debt.

A poll published by daily newspaper Delo on Monday showed Social Democrats, earlier led by Pahor before he ran for president as independent though still with SD support, led with 19.8 percent, followed by main opposition, center-right Slovenian Democratic Party with 13.8 percent.

Another poll released on Monday by the Nova24TV website

put the SDS in the lead with 15.8 percent, trailed by the SD at 11.2 percent, with half the electorate still undecided.

Pollsters have so far not included Sarec’s party in their soundings.

Reporting by Marja Novak; editing by Mark Heinrich

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