Ljubljana: A year after his government suffered a no-confidence vote making him Slovenia's least popular politician, former premier and ex-model Borut Pahor returned to the top as the country's next president.
Pahor won 67.24 percent of votes in the run-off election, ahead of incumbent President Danilo Turk with 32.76 percent, according to a tally of 99 percent of votes.
Over the last two months, the charismatic Pahor, 49, engaged in a US-style electoral campaign that had him working as a garbage collector, hairdresser, radio speaker and even painter.
This helped him turn around public support in the eurozone country.
Pahor is a politician with an exceptional capacity for survival, said analyst Matevz Tomsic from the Nova Gorica School of Advanced Social Studies faculty.
His approach to the election included populism, showing off and "even some clown-like acts", Tomsic told.
"But that can be productive for some jobs," he added.
The strategy worked, even though Pahor went against the public mood by supporting the centre-right government's unpopular austerity measures, including public sector wage reductions and social welfare cuts.
"We need mutual confidence, mutual respect and tolerance," he said after exit polls designated him as the winner on Sunday, calling for collaboration with the government.
"This victory is only the beginning of a new hope, a new time."
Ahead of the run-off, Pahor revealed the key to his success.
"I'm persistent and stick to my convictions to those I had then (as prime minister) and those I have now in the opposition. Such consistency is what people need now," he said.
"People want to have a leader who will consistently stick to his convictions regardless of the fact that it might not be useful or might not enjoy the support of the majority."
A leading former communist official when Slovenia was still a Yugoslav republic, Pahor led the centre-left opposition Social Democrats to victory in the 2008 general elections. But he beat Prime Minister Janez Jansa's governing Slovenian Democratic Party with only a one-seat majority.


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