Minority seeks permanent seat in Italian parliament
Ljubno ob Savinji, 29 July - Slovenian minority officials pledged to work to secure a permanent seat for the minority in the Italian parliament as the Office for Slovenians Abroad hosted a debate on the issue on Friday.
The discussion comes amid concerns that the Slovenian minority in Italy could end up without its representative in the Italian parliament following the 25 September snap election.
The election will be held after the electoral law has been amended to reduce the number of seats in both houses of parliament, including from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, where most ethnic Slovenians live.
The minority has had its representative in the Italian parliament throughout since 1963, which was owning to the left and centre-left parties, that is the Democratic Party and its predecessors, Rudi Pavšič, an aide to Tatjana Rojc, the Slovenian senator in Rome, told the meeting.
He believes at the moment only the Democratic Party can ensure the minority will continue to have its representative in the Italian parliament after the September elections.
"There is very little time as party candidate lists will be determined as early as next week," he said, noting that the right-wing is likely to win a majority in Friuli Venezia Giulia.
If Slovenian candidates are not elected, those attending the meeting wondered how Italy would act considering it was bound by article 26 in the minority protection act to facilitate the minority's representation in both houses of parliament.
"Article 26 is set out in very loose terms, which we unfortunately did not face with so closely up until the reform that reduced parliamentary representation in Rome," said Senator Rojc.
She herself recently tabled a proposal for constitutional reform to guarantee a permanent seat to the Slovenian minority. "Unfortunately, time ran out to discuss the constitutional reform, and the government fell in the meantime," said the senator.
Still, she repeated her appeal today that the Slovenian community should be granted a seat. "Who better to take care of us than ourselves," she wondered.
The idea was also supported by the heads of the two minority umbrella organisations in Italy as well as the Italian minority MP in the Slovenian parliament, Felice Žiža.
Livio Semolič of the Slovenian Cultural and Economic Association (SKGZ) said many opportunities to achieve that goal had been missed, urging the Slovenian authorities to put pressure on the Italian legislative bodies.
He does not see why centre-right parties would not include ethnic Slovenians on their lists of candidates.