Ljubljana – Slovenia will hold the first round of election to pick its fifth president on 23 October under a decision taken on Wednesday by Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič. Candidates will be able to submit their bids starting from 22 August.
Under law, a potential second run-off between the two candidates wining the most votes needs to be held within 21 days after the first round, with the most likely date being 13 November.
President-elect is expected to be sworn in on 23 December, a day after the second five-year term of incumbent Borut Pahor ends. As the law limits an elected president to two consecutive terms, he cannot stand in this election.
A number of prospective candidates have already announced their intention to run with the polls currently favouring lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar ahead of former Foreign Minister Anže Logar of the opposition Democrats (SDS) and Marta Kos, a former diplomat standing for the ruling party Freedom Movement.
The president’s role in Slovenia is largely ceremonial. Under the constitution, the president serves as the head of state and commander in chief of the Slovenian Armed Forces.
The president’s powers include promulgating laws, appointing and nominating certain officials, such as Constitutional Court and international court judges, central bank governor and vice-governors and ambassadors, and calling elections to the National Assembly.
This year’s presidential election will be the seventh since Slovenia became an independent country in 1991. Milan Kučan was the only president thus far to have won an outright majority in the first round both in 1992 and 1997. Only him and Pahor have won two terms.
Having served for a decade as the country’s prime minister, Janez Drnovšek (1950-2008) was elected Slovenia’s second president in 2002 in a run-off with Barbara Brezigar, who later became Slovenia’s state prosecutor general.
Drnovšek did not bid for re-election. Instead Danilo Türk, a former high-rankling UN official, was elected in 2007 after defeating Lojze Peterle, the country’s first prime minister, in the run-off.
Pahor, having previously served as the prime minister, defeated Türk in the second round in 2012 before going on to win another term in 2017 against Marjan Šarec, who would go on to become prime minister.