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A man casts his ballot at a polling station during second round of the presidential election in Kamnik, Slovenia November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Borut Zivulovic


By Marja Novak

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Polls opened in the Slovenian presidential election runoff on Sunday morning, with incumbent President Borut Pahor running for his second five-year mandate against the mayor of the city of Kamnik Marjan Sarec.

In the first round three weeks ago, Pahor got about 47 percent of the vote among nine candidates with Sarec, who is a former comedian and imitator, coming in second with almost 25 percent.

Although opinion polls published on Friday showed Pahor was still in the lead and would get between 52 to 56.3 percent of the vote, analysts said the outcome was uncertain.

"Polls show that the difference in support for Pahor and Sarec is getting smaller therefore I would not dare predict who will win," said Meta Roglic, a political analyst of daily paper Dnevnik.

"A relatively high support for Sarec indicates that many voters are hoping that a new political figure will bring positive changes," she added.

Pahor, 54, is a former prime minister and a long-time leader of the centre-left Social Democrats, although he is running as an independent candidate.

He was Slovenian prime minister from 2008 to 2012, in the years which led to the worst financial crisis in Slovenia's history. In 2013, the country managed to only narrowly avoid an international bailout for its banks, burdened by a large amount of bad loans.

A former fashion model, Pahor is also known as "the king of the Instagram" for posting his photos on Instagram showing him in his official duties but also in various sports activities.

He has said he will focus on "connecting people, cooperation, political stability in security" if he gets another mandate, while Sarec, 39, claims a change of policy is needed to further improve economy and enable better life for Slovenians.

Sarec is supported by his own non-parliamentary centre-left party Lista Marjana Sarca, which has so far only been active on a local level.

Although the role of the president is mainly ceremonial, the president leads the army and also nominates several top officials, including the central bank governor. Most of his nominations have to be confirmed by parliament.

Sarec has said he will nominate a new candidate for the central bank governor in 2019, when Jazbec's mandate expires, while Pahor has said he will renominate Jazbec.

Polls are due to close at 1800 GMT, with preliminary results expected around 2000 GMT.

(Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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