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Europe

Slovak President Ivan Gasporic re-elected

Incumbent President Ivan Gasparovic has won Slovakia's runoff presidential election, securing more than 55 percent of the vote to clinch a second term in office.

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Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic, gestures, after casting his vote, in the presidential elections in Bratislava

His challenger, opposition candidate Iveta Radicova, received 44 percent of the votes cast in Saturday's election, according to final results published by the statistics office.

The turnout exceeded 51 percent of more than four million registered voters.

Official results were expected to be confirmed by the national election committee later Sunday.

"The Slovak citizens respect me and I didn't disappoint them -- that's what decided the election," said Gasparovic, who presented himself during the campaign as a guarantee of stability and continuity amid the global economic crisis.

Slovakia's economy, largely dependent on exports of cars and electronic goods produced mostly by foreign manufacturers, is forecast to contract this year after growing by 10.4 percent in 2007 and 6.4 percent in 2008.

"I am thankful to all the people and I promise I will always work for them," the 68-year-old lawyer added, with the wife Silvia standing by his side.

Earlier Radicova, a 52-year-old Christian Democrat lawmaker, conceded defeat and congratulated Gasparovic.

Gasparovic, a veteran political figure, won the first round of election with 46.7 percent of the votes cast, but the turnout of 44 percent was too low to allow him an outright victory.

The Slovak presidency is largely a ceremonial office but the vote was considered a barometer for leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico.