Slovenia votes in early election after prime minister's resignation amid political instability

Slovenes voted Sunday in a second early election in three years amid political instability that threatened the small eurozone nation's bid to pull out of an economic downturn.

The balloting was forced when outgoing Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek resigned in May after losing a power struggle within her own political party. The government of predecessor Janez Jansa — formed after an early vote in 2011 — collapsed last year when he faced corruption allegations.

Analysts have predicted another coalition government and more uncertainty after Sunday's balloting.

The party of newcomer Miro Cerar — a law expert and the son of Slovenian Olympic medalist Miroslav Cerar — is tipped to win the most votes, around 30 percent. The 50-year-old parliamentary consultant only formed the party in June, but swiftly gained popularity because of his untainted public record.

Cerar said upon casting his ballot that "people have lost trust in political parties."

"They know the crisis is still strong," he added. "The only possibility for ending it is to have new people, unburdened by past stories, enter politics."

Cerar is challenged by Jansa's conservative Slovene Democratic Party. Jansa was jailed last month for corruption in an arms deal, but has sought to portray himself as the victim of leftist political opponents and a staged bribery trial.

The Social Democrats and the Pensioners' party are trailing behind.

Cerar has opposed the privatization of some of Slovenia's state-run companies, which is part of an EU-backed anti-crisis package. The outgoing government froze the sale process of Slovenia's main airport and Telekom Slovenia until a new Cabinet is formed.

Slovenia plunged into financial turmoil during the eurozone debt crisis. Once the most prosperous of the eastern European countries, the Alpine nation has narrowly avoided international bailout.

During just over a year in office, Bratusek's center-left government stabilized Slovenia's ailing banks at the center of the crisis.

Slovenia has 1.7 million voters.