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Slovenia’s new president calls for unity

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Former Slovenia Prime Minister Borut Pahor, who has called for unity in the tiny EU nation amid growing discontent with government tax increase and spending cuts, won the presidential election Sunday, according to an exit poll.

Pahor won 67.44 percent of the vote compared with 32.56 for his rival, incumbent Danilo Turk, according to the State Electoral Commission, after nearly all votes were counted. Final results are expected later in the week.

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Sunday’s vote came just days after antiausterity protests in Ljubljana, the capital, erupted into clashes that left 15 people injured, triggering fears this normally placid Alpine nation of 2 million was heading into instability.

Slovenia, once an economic star among EU newcomers when it joined in 2004, has faced one of the worst recessions of the 17 nations that use the euro currency.

Its economy has shrunk more than 8 percent since 2009 and continues to decline, resulting in a sharp drop in exports and living standards and a surge in unemployment, which now stands at about 12 percent.

Although the presidency is mostly a ceremonial post, the elected leader will play an important role as the country faces painful economic reforms.

Slovenia now needs ‘‘trust, respect and tolerance,’’ the left-leaning Pahor, 49, said. ‘‘There is no problem that cannot be solved if we act together.’’

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