STA, 30 August 2022 - Marta Kos, the ruling party's candidate for president, withdrew her bid for the 23 October election, citing "change of circumstances out of personal reasons". The Freedom Movement will discuss steps in the wake of Kos's decision in the coming days, the party said, adding that it would focus on local elections due on 22 November.
"I believe in a solidarity-based Slovenia, in a country where people respect and trust each other; I believe in a country that I would like to serve responsibly and promote those ideals," Kos, one of the vice-chairs of the Freedom Movement, said in a written statement announcing her decision.
Kos added that she would continue to fight for those values as a vice-chair of the largest ruling coalition party.
The former diplomat thanked everyone who supported her bid, pledging her commitment to the supporters and the shared values of her homeland.
Public opinion polls suggest that Kos does not have a chance to win the presidential election with Nataša Pirc Musar, a prominent lawyer and former information commissioner, favoured to win a run-off against Anže Logar, the former foreign minister who is now an MP for the opposition Democrats (SDS).
Commenting on Kos's decision to quit, political analyst Andraž Zorko said it was a disappointment for an important part of the electorate.
He wonders whether the largest coalition party can afford not to have its own candidate, saying that Kos's decision puts the Freedom Movement in "an unusual situation".
At the same time, it increases the chances of other presidential candidates, especially Kočevje Mayor Vladimir Prebilič and ex-Foreign Minister Ivo Vajgl.
Zorko also believes that Kos's move brings more uncertainty in the first round for Logar, as the votes that would go to Kos will now more likely go to Pirc Musar.
Nevertheless, Zorko ruled out the scenario that would see any of the candidates who have so far announced their bids to win the election in the first round.
Candidate Pirc Musar meanwhile wrote in response to Kos's move that she respects her decision while focussing on her own bid and voter signature collection.
Similarly, Logar told the N1 portal that he is continuing his own campaign and declined to comment on action by other candidates.
Prebilič is meanwhile confident that he will successfully reach out to the voters that would otherwise support Kos.
His campaign staff summarised his view by saying that Kos's withdrawal will leave a gap in this year's presidential elections, because at the core of democracy is voters having a choice of quality candidates, which Kos, although a rival, certainly is.