The Slovenia Times

Pirc Musar elected Slovenia's first woman president


Lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar was elected Slovenia's first woman president after defeating former Foreign Minister Anže Logar in Sunday's run-off with 53.86% of the vote, nearly complete results show.

A newcomer to politics, the 54-year-old, who describes herself as a left liberal, is a household name in Slovenia, having served two high-profile terms as the country's first information commissioner and several years as a news anchor. She is known for her advocacy of human rights and the rule of law.

She has not been affiliated with any party, but was endorsed by two former presidents ahead of the first round and the largest two ruling coalition parties backed her after their candidate did not make it to the run-off.

In her first address as president elect, Pirc Musar pledged to work hard for human rights and democracy. "I will do my best to truly be the president of all, that I will work hard for the fundamental human rights, constitutional rights and democracy."

Announcing that her first move as president would be to host a meeting with the leaders of parliamentary parties, she promised to "make maximum effort that all of us in politics will reach unity on strategic issues".

"The safer the people are and the fewer poor people there are, the fewer social problems we will have, the less crime we will have in our country," she said, adding she would want a country where the old would be well provided for and heard, and where young people would want to stay.

Stressing the need to deal with climate change, she said "the young are giving us the political responsibility to take care of our planet, so that next generations, our children will live in a clean environment".

Logar, the MP for the opposition Democrats (SDS), congratulated Pirc Musar, expressing the hope that she would keep her promise to be the president of all Slovenians. "This is what Slovenia needs now more than ever before," he said, hoping the new president would act as a unifying force.

Logar believes that Pirc Musar will be a "good president if she lends an ear to us, all of us, and she will have our support in bridging differences."

Picking up 46.14% of the vote, Logar posted the best result ever for a conservative candidate in a presidential election after Barbara Brezigar won 43.5% in the 2002 run-off against Janez Drnovšek.

Referring to more than 400,000 votes that he won, Logar said a "large crowd said clearly and loudly that cooperation is the only right path for our future."

Indeed, Logar cast aside the divisive rhetoric of his party boss Janez Janša and both him and Pirc Musar stuck to argument- rather than attacks-based campaign, something rarely seen in Slovenia in recent years.

Hugging her rival, Pirc Musar congratulated Logar on his campaign, saying they had spent five months together, so she had in a way accepted Anže Logar as a friend.

"We have proven to Slovenia that respectful communication is possible. I think this is what Slovenia expects of statesmen, politicians," she said, expressing the hope that Logar would carry on with his rhetoric because Slovenia needed such politicians.

Logar's attitude was also noted by outgoing President Borut Pahor, who according to his Twitter profile congratulated Pirc Musar in a phone conversation and invited her for a meeting in the Presidential Palace on Tuesday, while congratulating Logar on his "unifying speech after the election."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Robert Golob, in congratulating Pirc Musar, labelled the result as proof that the people want to live in a country where "the basic tenets of democracy such as human rights, the rule of law, independent media, freedom and a respectable dialogue are respected."

"I am convinced the two of us will cooperate well in addressing common challenges and strengthening an open, inclusive society that puts solidarity, cooperation and joint efforts to develop the country to everyone's benefit at the forefront," Golob said in a message circulated by his office.

While Golob was not in Ljubljana personally, the party's vice-president, National Assembly Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič was among the first people to congratulate the new president in person.

She expects the new president to cooperate constructively with parliamentary factions. "I am confident she will endeavour to achieve some kind of consensus, but I also believe that she will be harsh, if necessary, if the authorities veer off the path that a democratic, modern country must take," she said.

Tanja Fajon, the foreign minister and leader of the Social Democrats (SD), noted on Twitter that "the year 2022 will be written down in history, with women holding three major offices for the first time," a reference to her as well as the speaker.

The turnout, at 53%, was higher than in the first round, which is a first time that the turnout in the run-off exceeded that in the first round.

Pirc Musar will take over as Slovenia's fifth president on 23 December, taking over from incumbent Borut Pahor, whose second fifth-year term expires the day before.


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