Ljubljana: Slovenia`s centre-right opposition Democratic Party (SDS) has topped local elections but failed to unseat the centre-left mayor in the capital Ljubljana, preliminary results have shown.
With more than 80 percent of the votes counted, former prime minister Janez Jansa`s SDS was on the lead with 18.9 percent of all the ballots cast, slightly better than the 17.3 percent registered at the last local elections in 2006.
Prime Minister Borut Pahor`s ruling centre-left Social Democrats (SD) had received 11.9 percent support, slightly down on the 12.1 percent it scored in the 2006 vote.
But even if Pahor`s party had its own candidate in Ljubljana, billionaire Zoran Jankovic`s victory there will not be entirely unwelcome news for the Social Democrats, as Jankovic backs the government`s policies.
Ljubljana`s centre-left mayor Zoran Jankovic, who ran as an independent candidate, was re-elected with over 65 percent of the vote.
Centre-right opposition People`s Party (SLS) followed with 9.8 percent and remained the party with the highest number of mayors, with 31 posts taken in the first round.
They scored a significant victory in Slovenia`s second city Maribor, when outgoing mayor Franc Kangler managed to keep his job in a first-round victory, albeit by a tight margin.
Another surprise came in the Adriatic city of Piran, when a left-wing candidate backed by the Social Democrats, a doctor of Ghanaian origin, led the first round of voting.
If he manages to unseat the incumbent conservative mayor in the October 24 second round, he will become the country`s first black mayor.
Voters were asked to elect 208 mayors and over 3,300 municipal council members. Turnout was 47.8 percent of registered voters, compared to 55 percent in 2006, preliminary results showed.
Pohar`s government, half-way through its term, has been trying to rein in public spending to get the country`s finances in order.
Last week, the Slovenian central bank downgraded its 2010 growth forecast for the second time this year, to 1.1 percent, but said the economy would pick up steam over the next two years.
The next national Legislative Election is due in 2012.