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Slovakian president holds on

SLOVAK President Ivan Gasparovic has been re-elected in a runoff ballot, according to the final results announced yesterday.

The incumbent declared victory after taking a decisive 55.53 percent of Saturday's vote, according to official results that gave his challenger Iveta Radicova 44.47 percent.

"I've been sure that people trust me," said Gasparovic, who had been favored to win.

He is backed by the socialist and ultra-nationalist parties that dominate government, and had campaigned on pledges to guard Slovak national interests and provide stability and continuity through the global financial crisis.

Gasparovic is the first president since Slovakia's 1993 independence to be elected for two five-year terms. He was first elected in 2004.

Prime Minister Robert Fico welcomed the result, saying "I'm glad that another period of stability is ahead of us."

The Slovak presidency has the power to pick the prime minister, appoint Constitutional Court judges and veto laws. A parliamentary majority can override vetoes.

Center-right lawmaker Radicova, who had hoped to become Slovakia's first female president, conceded defeat.

"I congratulate the winner," Radicova said. "I respect the results."

Nearly 52 percent of Slovakia's 4.3 million eligible voters turned out for Saturday's ballot - more than the 44 percent that voted in the first round two weeks ago.


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