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Surprise victors in Slovenia poll

A centre-left party led by a prominent businessman and mayor has nabbed a surprise victory in Slovenian parliamentary elections, reflecting mounting concern among voters over the economy in the small EU country.

Positive Slovenia, the party led by the former head of the country's largest retailer and mayor of the capital, Ljubljana, took 28.5% of the vote, according to nearly complete results. The favoured conservatives were trailing with 26.3%.

The leader of the Slovene Democratic Party, former prime minister Janez Jansa, conceded defeat and congratulated Zoran Jankovic for his party's win.

Positive Slovenia did not win enough votes outright to form a government on its own, setting up a scramble for coalition partners.

In winning Slovenia's first snap election since becoming independent from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, Positive Slovenia will have to tackle the country's mounting debt, unemployment and a looming recession.

Mr Jankovic has promised swift reform, including austerity measures: "The results show that Slovenia will go in the right direction. It is obvious that the citizens want an efficient state."

Serbia-born Mr Jankovic won prominence in Slovenia first as the head of the country's biggest retailer, Merkator, running the company successfully for eight years, before he was removed from the post in 2005 by Mr Jansa over disagreements that Mr Jankovic claimed were politically motivated.

The 58-year-old economist has served as the mayor of Ljubljana since 2006.

The snap vote was called after the centre-left government of premier Borut Pahor was toppled over economic troubles and allegations of corruption. The state electoral commission said the turnout was around 65%.

Mr Pahor has said that he has done his best as premier to battle the global economic downturn and the European debt crisis. Mr Pahor's Social Democrats were third with 10.5% of the vote, results showed. Mr Pahor said this was more than he had expected. He offered to meet Mr Jankovic to discuss possible future cooperation.

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