Pro-EU leftist elected Slovenian president

Nov. 12, 2007 at 8:03 AM

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Danilo Tuerk, pro-European Union university professor, won 68 percent of votes in a runoff election contested to decide who is to be Slovenia's next president.

Tuerk, 55, formally an independent candidate but supported by leftist parties, said Slovenia will continue to be a loyal and reliable partner within the EU, Serbia's Belgrade B92 radio reported.

Tuerk, Ljubljana Law University professor and former aide to the U.N. secretary-general, said the EU can rely on Slovenia, which will be a good leader of the bloc when it takes over the EU six-month rotating presidency Jan. 1.

In the runoff Sunday, Tuerk defeated Lojze Peterle, who collected 30 percent from supporters of the ruling center-right coalition government of Sloveian Prime Minister Janez Jansa.

Peterle, Slovenia's first prime minister when the the country of 2 million seceded from the former Yugoslav federation, was leading with about 28 percent, followed by Tuerk with 24 percent of votes in the first round election Oct. 21.

Tuerk, who is to be sworn in as the head of state in December for a five-year term, replaces Slovenian President Janez Drnovsek, who didn't seek a second term.

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