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article imageSlovenian 'Instagram president' heads for re-election

By AFP     Oct 20, 2017 in Internet

Slovenia's internet-savvy incumbent head of state Borut Pahor is expected to win the first round of presidential elections on Sunday, possibly even negating the need for a run-off next month.

Polls put the 53-year-old former prime minister, first elected to the largely ceremonial presidency in 2012, close to or above the 50 percent needed for an outright victory.

His nearest rival, former comic actor and Kamnik mayor Marjan Sarec, is projected to get 21 percent, according to a survey in the Delo daily.

Pahor's campaign has seen him walk 700 kilometres (435 miles) around the country chatting to voters while posting photos and videos to his legions of followers on social media.

"I believe I've succeeded in connecting with people as much as possible," Pahor told AFP on the campaign trail.

Pahor stepped down as prime minister in 2011 after his government collapsed in the midst of the global financial crisis that drove Slovenia close to needing a bailout.

But the following year he won a surprise victory in presidential elections standing as an independent candidate backed by the Social Democrats (SD) party.

The former model has proved a hit on social media with 40,000 Instagram followers and even more on Twitter, with international media dubbing him the "Instagram president".

However, his detractors call him "Barbie", and Slovenia's first president Milan Kucan accused Pahor of cheapening the role of head of state and using it for self-promotion.

"I use Twitter to express my political positions while Instagram to show a more personal side of me which is, I believe, its main purpose," Pahor said.

The small former Yugoslav republic's president has a mostly ceremonial role although the holder can proposes and appoint some state officials and heads the army in case of war.

Some 1.7 million eligible citizens can cast votes on Sunday between 7:00 am (0500 GMT) and 7.00 pm (1700 GMT), with partial results expected later in the evening.

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