Two Italians standing for minority seat in parliament
Izola, 25 March - Felice Žiža, the incumbent MP of the Italian ethnic minority in the Slovenian parliament, will stand for re-election in the 24 April general election. He will be challenged by Maurizio Tremul, the long-serving head of the minority's umbrella organisation in Slovenia - the Italian Union.
Žiža, a medical doctor and ex-deputy mayor of Izola, was elected to parliament in 2018 against two rivals, including Tremul, after long-serving MP Roberto Battelli retired.
The minority MP is elected by members of the Italian ethnic minority in the area populated by the minority, that is on the Slovenian coast, south-west.
Presenting his bid in the town of Izola on Thursday, Žiža said that he would like to overcome the left-right divisions for the benefit of the Italian community.
He said that over the past four years, he had cooperated with the centre-left government of Marjan Šarec (2018-2020) and the centre-right government of Janez Janša.
It was only in the last six months that the minority MPs - the Hungarian minority also has one - came to tip the balance in parliament, managing to achieve changes to many bills.
If re-elected, he would like to change education legislation and preserve the number of staff at the Italian-language programme at the regional branch of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija.
Listing some of his achievements, he said he had contributed to important projects for Slovenian Istria, such as water supply or commuting between Slovenia and Italy during the pandemic.
He also pointed to financing the renovation of a building which hosts an Italian-language primary and secondary school and acquiring a building to seat the Italian minority's umbrella organisation, both in Koper.
Žiža commented on what he termed a "horrendous" campaign against him before the start of election campaigning after Tremul's Unity - Together group took issue with his dual residence status.
The group claims that Žiža does not live in Slovenia but in Italy's Muggia, an offence under the Slovenian residence registration legislation. Žiža, on the other hand, said that he is registered as an Italian citizen living abroad while he has had Slovenian citizenship since birth.
Tremul announced his bid in Izola on Monday, stressing the need for the ethnic minority to engage in dialogue, to be united and act transparently.
He believes that a minority MP must engage in dialogue with all political parties and the government, while preserving the freedom to vote in line with their consciousness and not becoming attached to only one party.
If elected, the minority politician and poet from Koper will be open to post-election cooperation based on democracy and the rule of law.
He intends to cooperate with all minority individuals and institutions. "Our voice wants to be the voice of all, the voice of unity of the Italian national community, dialogue and transparency."
Ondina Gregorich Diabate, a member of the Koper city council and a member of Unity - Together, said that not enough had been done for the development of the Italian minority. She urged more ambition.
Tremul's bid was also endorsed by Luka Juri, director of the Koper Regional Museum and former MP for the Social Democrats (SD), and Bruno Orlando, who stood for election against Tremul and Žiža in 2018.