Preliminary results show liberal lawyer and former TV presenter with eight-point lead over conservative rival.
Natasa Pirc Musar, a liberal lawyer and former TV presenter, is on course to become Slovenia’s first female president after preliminary results showed the 54-year-old has won the presidential runoff.
Pirc Musar, backed by the center-left government, won 54 percent of the votes in Sunday’s runoff while her rival, right-wing politician and former foreign minister Anze Logar, won 46 percent, according to election commission data based on 77 percent of the votes counted.
“We need to unify to be able to do something good for our beautiful homeland,” she said at one of her family properties on the outskirts of the capital, Ljubljana. It was crowded with supporters as results started to trickle in.
The human rights advocate has promised to be “the voice of women” in Slovenia and abroad and a “moral authority” in her new role, which is a largely ceremonial post.
“The president cannot be neutral … and have no opinion,” Pirc Musar, who headed the data protection authority for a decade, told the AFP news agency ahead of Sunday’s vote. “… I have never been afraid to speak out.”
As a lawyer, Pirc Musar was hired to protect the interests of Slovenian-born Melania Trump during her husband’s US presidency, stopping companies attempting to commercialize products with her name.
During the campaign, Pirc Musar came under attack because of her husband’s lucrative investments, especially in tax havens.
The results mark a fresh setback for conservatives in Slovenia, a European Union country of 2 million people.
Logar, 46, ran as an independent but is a longtime member of the Slovenian Democratic Party of Janez Jansa, who failed in his bid to be re-elected as premier in April.
Critics accused Jansa of attacking media freedom and the judiciary and undermining the rule of law in his latest term in office.