A centre-left political novice leads his party to victory in Sunday's election - a result that could test investor nerves in view of his hostility to privatisation seen as key to Slovenia's economic reform. David Pollard reports.
His party was formed barely six weeks ago. Now it's on course to be the biggest in parliament. Miro Cerar is a fifty-year-old law professor and a virtual newcomer to politics. His SMC party won just shy of 35 per cent of the vote - that translates to over a third of seats - banking on its appeal to voters fed up with the scandals that have tarnished the traditional parties. A stong mandate - though he's likely to still need a coalition agreement with other parties. And a hint that Slovenia will revisit reform. (SOUNDBITE) (Slovenian) LEADER OF MIRO CERAR MARTY (SMC) AND ELECTION WINNER, MIRO CERAR, SAYING: "Slovenia ... acknowledges the EU's recommendations in accepting all further measures and reforms for ending the financial, economic, and social crisis. However, within those recommendations, Slovenia as a country will seek its own ways to achieve those fundamental goals in the best way." The financial crisis left Slovenia's reputation as an trailblazer in ex-Communist eastern Europe in shreds. Critics say state meddling after the global downturn made things worse. Bad loans exposing years of reckless lending - Slovenia narrowly avoiding an international bailout last year. Cerar has, though, opposed the sale of some state assets - like Telekom Slovenia and the international airport, Aerodrom Llubljana. That could make investors nervous. And many voters say they have yet to be won over by what'll be the fourth government since the crisis. (SOUNDBITE) (Slovenian) ENGINEER FROM LJUBLJANA, UROS PIRNAT, SAYING: "It seems like a small step forward, but otherwise I don't expect any changes in the current policies. I think that in all areas the policies will continue as they were until now." The outgoing administration suspended the privatisation programme pending a new government. Without the state sell-offs, Cerar will have to find other ways to raise cash if he's to meet deficit targets agreed with the EU. Even with them, it could still take a while - no new government expected to be formed before mid-September.