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Runoff needed in Slovenia election

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.

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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.

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