LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — No candidate won an outright majority in Slovenia’s presidential election and a runoff will be held next month between the incumbent and a former prime minister, an exit poll predicted on Sunday.
Borut Pahor, former prime minister, will finish first with 41.9 percent of the vote, followed by President Danilo Turk, with 37.2 percent, and center-right candidate Milan Zver at 20.9 percent, said the poll, conducted by the Mediana agency and broadcast on state television.
The runoff will be held on Dec. 2.
Pahor’s projected lead was viewed as a surprise since Turk was expected to be the frontrunner in Sunday’s election.
But a runoff had been widely expected in the race for the presidential office — a largely ceremonial post in Slovenia but one that commands political authority.
Upon the release of the exit polls, Pahor said the ‘‘confidence of the people is much higher than I had expected.’’
Turk said he looks forward to the runoff.
The election comes as Slovenia — a small, economically struggling country of 2 million — faces political divisions and risks of needing an international economic bailout.
Chosen for a five-year term, the president heads the army and proposes the national bank chief.
The latter is an especially sensitive task considering the severe financial crisis caused here by state-owned banks’ rampant lending.