Polls Open in Slovenian Presidential Runoff

Posted December 2nd, 2012 at 5:40 am (UTC-5)
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Polls have opened in Slovenia for a runoff presidential election, amid growing discontent with government cost-cutting measures designed to avoid an international bailout.

The opposition candidate, center-left former Prime Minister Borut Pahor, led incumbent President Danilo Turk in the first round of voting last month.

Slovenia joined the euro zone in 2007, when it was the fastest-growing economy in the bloc. But it has suffered in the aftermath of the global financial crisis because of its dependency on exports. After it barely pulled out of recession in the second quarter, it officially slid back into recession in the third quarter of the year.

The conservative-led government has cut public sector wages and many social benefits this year in order to reduce the budget deficit, and has announced plans for further budget cuts in 2013.

Two weeks ago, trade unions organized a mass protest in Ljubljana against spending cuts and economic reforms that would include a rise in the retirement age, easier employment laws and privatizations.