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Festival discusses representation of ethnic minorities in parliament

Opcina, 5 September - In its immediate neighbourhood, Slovenia is unique in that ethnic minorities have guaranteed representation in parliament. This was the main conclusion of the first discussion held as part of a festival of the Slovenian minority in Italy which opened on Friday and will end today, the minority newspaper Primorski Dnevnik has reported.

The 56th Draga Study Days opened with a talk comparing levels of legally guaranteed representation in parliament in Slovenia and neighbours Italy, Austria and Hungary.

Under Slovenian law, the Italian and Hungarian ethnic minorities have guaranteed one MP each in the National Assembly, the lower chamber of parliament.

The panellists shared a view that neither of Slovenia's neighbours has the same mechanism while the representation of the Slovenian minority there depends on various factors.

Ethnic Slovenians from Italy, including former Senator Stojan Spetič and Rudi Pavšič, a former head of an umbrella minority organisation, pointed to the lack of political will in Italy to address this issue.

The festival is traditionally organised in Opicina, a town on the outskirts of the city of Trieste, by the the Society of Slovenian Intellectuals, an NGO from Trieste.

The organisers bill it as an event promoting the values of Slovenian identity, Christianity and democracy.

This year it is also dedicated to 30 years of Slovenia's independence, with the closing talk on the matter given by retired Ljubljana Archbishop Anton Stress.

He said that Slovenia had only partial democracy because leftist political forces had never really intended to hand over power and allow pluralism.

He said while the former communist authorities had supported democratisation and Slovenia's independence 30 years ago, they at the same time tried to keep control over areas such as education, culture, public opinion, public media, judiciary and finances.

Stress also believes Slovenia does not have a proper civil society, saying the civil society is "politicised" as a result of "a lack of its financial independence". The civil society is "sucked to the establishment, which supports it through subsides".

The Catholic dignitary believes the only truly independent institution of civil society in Slovenia is the Catholic Church, which is however "radically undesired".

© STA, 2021