The Slovenia Times

Pahor, Šarec step up mutual criticism ahead of presidential run-off


Pahor faced accusations of a below-par performance devoid of content, while Šarec had to reject the reproach he was inexperienced and supported by circles around former President Milan Kučan.

The first segment of the debate, hosted last evening by POP TV, focused on continuing problems at the Paediatric Clinic and UKC Ljubljana hospital. Both agreed Prime Minister Miro Cerar should have replaced Health Minister Milojka Kolar Celarc.

Things turned more personal when the discussion broached the criticism levelled against Pahor ahead of the first round by Kučan and a group of left-leaning intellectuals.

Pahor argued these circles supported Šarec as an alternative to him, who has been undermining their agenda by cooperating with opposition Democrats (SDS) leader Janez Janša and focusing on reconciliation.

"You represent a step backward not forward. Your election is being pushed by people who are not happy with my work and positions," Pahor said.

While Šarec agreed with the criticism that Pahor hid behind impartiality when he failed to speak up in critical moments, he categorically denied having anything to do with Kučan, suggesting instead that it was Pahor who had the support of several political bigwigs and even covered their backs when he was seemingly impartial.

Pahor went on to speak about how Šarec, a former actor who is serving his second term as mayor, lacked state-level and international experience in a time when "the risks for peace and stability in the country ... will be much smaller with me than with Šarec".

"Your past results are not of the brilliant sort that would allow you to patronise me. Saying people will be in peril if I become president goes a little too far," Šarec responded.

"The young and inexperienced ... also have a lot of knowledge and are also more firmly grounded than you, who are sometimes living high in the clouds and have no realistic insight in the problems of small people," he added, saying he "prefers being naive to being a scoundrel".

The challenger went on to attack Pahor over his strong presence on social media, saying that people gained preciously little from his many pictures, which was also reflected in the low election turnout.

Pahor disagreed, arguing politics had to follow the digitalisation of society and that in this way he was trying to keep in contact with the people.

"Sooner or later every politician will have to embrace these methods," he said, explaining he was trying to transmit his "political positions through Tweeter" and his "character through Instagram".

The run-off vote is scheduled for 12 November. In the first round, which featured nine candidates on 22 October, Pahor got 47% and Šarec 25%. The turnout was 43.6%, the lowest for a first-round presidential vote to date.


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