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Local elections crucial for Roma community

Murska Sobota, 19 September - Local elections are extremely important for the 12,000-member Roma community in Slovenia, Roma official Darko Rudaš told the STA ahead of the 20 November local election. It is municipalities that can contribute the most to the development of the Roma community and better quality of living in Roma villages, he stressed.

Novo Mesto
Roma official Darko Rudaš.
Photo: Rasto Božič/STA

This has been confirmed in many cases of good and bad practices. It depends on each municipality's individual approach in what conditions the Roma community lives, said Rudaš, the head of the alliance for development of the Roma minority Zveza Preporod.

Currently, no mayor in Slovenia is a member of the Roma community but Rudaš believes this is not crucial. What is important is that the elected mayor is aware of the importance of successful development and integration of the Roma community.

In line with the 2002 changes to the local government act, the Roma have the right to a representative in the municipal council in 20 out of Slovenia's 212 municipalities: Beltinci, Cankova, Črenšovci, Črnomelj, Dobrovnik, Grosuplje, Kočevje, Krško, Kuzma, Lendava, Metlika, Murska Sobota, Novo mesto, Puconci, Rogašovci, Semič, Šentjernej, Tišina, Trebnje and Turnišče.

In each of these municipalities one Roma councillor is elected providing that at least one candidate stands in the election.

Zveza Preporod and the Forum of Roma Councillors are working to secure at least one candidate in these municipalities. "The worst case scenario is that there is no Roma candidate, which means that the Roma community is (at least temporarily) not represented in the municipal council."

At the last local election in 2018, there were no Roma candidates in Beltinci and Šentjernej.

If the municipality fails to secure the right to a Roma representative in the municipal council until the local election then the National Electoral Commission carries out a subsequent election based on a law regulating local election.

Occasionally, a member of the Roma community is elected to a municipal council from regular party lists but in that case they do not represent the Roma community.

Currently, the Roma community is represented by three female Roma councillors.

According to Rudaš, relevant institutions should be aware of the importance of the development of the Roma community for everyday life of the Roma and everyone should contribute their share.

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© STA, 2022