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Author Boris Pahor entering election at age 104

Trieste, 2 April - The author Boris Pahor, arguably the most prominent member of the Slovenian minority in Italy, has decided to contest the regional election in Friuli Venezia-Giulia on the ticket of the only Slovenian political party there. He says his decision is motivated by the desire to help the minority secure political representation.

Črna na Koroškem
Author Boris Pahor.
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA
File photo

"We would like to collect enough votes to have our representative in the regional parliament in Trieste," Pahor told the STA in a telephone interview.

The Slovenian minority does not have automatic representation in Italy's national or regional parliaments.

Traditionally, the Slovenian Community (SSK), the Slovenians' political party in the northern Friuli Venezia-Giulia region, has therefore forged alliances with leftist parties, the same tactic it has employed now for the 29 April ballot.

Pahor is critical of the lack of guaranteed representation, which contrasts with the Slovenian system of a guaranteed seat for a member of the Italian community in the 90-member legislature.

"We have to get involved with leftist parties so that our votes coalesce around a Slovenian, and even then there is no guarantee this will be enough."

Pahor was invited to stand in the election by the SSK, whose secretary Igor Gabrovec told the STA Pahor's candidacy was an expression of support for independent political engagement of the party.

The renowned author represents values such as the fight for democracy, resistance against all forms of totalitarianism, and the fight against discrimination, Gabrovec pointed out.

Pahor, who is turning 105 in August and it still in good health, said he conceded to the candidacy because he is well known in Italy, in particular after 2008, when his best known book Necropolis was released in Italian.

Since then he has been invited to speak at hundreds of events across Italy about his past, about Fascism and about the "cultural genocide" of ethnic Slovenians in Italy.

Despite his fame, he does not expect to be elected. "They won't vote for me to win. They'll vote for me because they think I'm sympathetic and because they now have the chance to pay tribute to me," he said.

If he is elected anyway, he does not expect to be very active. "Except if they really insist that I appear, I won't run around," he said.

Pahor has stood in elections before. He says he has been on the SSK ballot at least three times but has never been elected.

Along with the 93-year-old writer Alojz Rebula, Pahor is considered the leading intellectual force of the Slovenian minority in Italy and one of the most vocal advocates of minority rights.

He made his name in the 1960s as an editor of Zaliv, a Trieste-based journal published between 1966 and 1990 which was prohibited in Yugoslavia.

Among other things, he ran in the 1970s an interview with Edvard Kocbek, a pariah of the Communist-controlled WWII Liberation Front who had been rejected by the Yugoslav elite.

In this interview Kocbek was the first person ever to talk publicly about retribution killings of the Nazi-collaborators Domobranci by the Partisans in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.

In literary terms, Pahor is best known for his book Necropolis, a detailed chronicle of how he survived five Nazi concentration camps, including the notorious Dachau and Bergen-Belsen.

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© STA, 2018