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Slovenia Looks to Center-Right in Snap Polls

Slovenia's president Danilo Turk, left, casts his ballot as his wife Barbara Miklic, right, looks on at a polling station in Ljubljana, December 4, 2011.

Slovenians are voting in early elections expected to bring conservatives back to power on a pledge to deal with the nation's mounting debt, high unemployment and the threat of renewed recession.

The parliamentary vote was called in September, after the Alpine state's minority center-left government was ousted in a no-confidence vote. That vote came amid poor economic recovery forecasts and disagreements between Prime Minister Borut Pahor's Social Democrats and junior coalition partners.

Pre-election surveys have predicted that the Slovenian Democratic Party of former prime minister Janez Jansa could win a full third of Sunday's votes in the country of two million. But analysts say he likely will need support from smaller parties to form a majority in the 90-seat parliament.

Jansa was prime minister of the former Yugoslav republic from 2004 to 2008. He has promised to cut the country's huge public debt, which has risen to about 45 percent of its gross domestic product, and to address unemployment hovering at 12 percent.

"I hope for a high turnout, because, if turnout is higher, the legitimacy of the outcome is higher," said Janez. "We wish that Slovenia gets a strong new government and that the new parliament will change the ratifying procedure, regardless of who is in it, so that the new government is in place already in two weeks rather than two months."

Europe's debt crisis in the 17-nation eurozone, which includes Slovenia, already has led to a change in government in Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain.

Voting ends at 1800 UTC, and exit polls and first partial results are expected late Sunday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.