Re-elected senator sees Meloni's win as step back for minority

Trieste, 26 September - Tatjana Rojc, a member of the Slovenian minority in Italy, has confirmed for the STA she has been re-elected as senator in Italy's parliament in Sunday's election. She sees the victory of Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party as a major step back for the minority.

Tatjana Rojc, an Italian senator and a member of the Slovenian minority in Italy.
Photo: Katja Kodba/STA
File photo

Near-final results show that Brothers of Italy, a party with neo-fascist roots, have won the most votes, netting some 26%. In the wake of a far-right surge in Italy, Rojc expects her work as senator to be very demanding.

"It's a very challenging moment," said the 60-year-old, who was re-elected for a five-year term on the slate of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) that had to concede defeat in yesterday's general election and will now be in opposition.

Both on national level and the level of the border region Friuli Venezia Giulia, Rojc's home region, the centre-right coalition has won a clear majority and will be led by Meloni, so Rojc will be the only opposition senator representing the region in this term.

Commenting on the near-final results in the region, Rojc told the STA that the PD had expected a tough election battle. In Trieste, her party has managed to retain "important figures", but it did not expect such an easy win for Meloni at national level.

"This represents a significant step back for the Slovenian ethnic community," she said.

The PD will have to keep a close eye on the new coalition's moves to make sure there will be no curtailment of the rights that Slovenians in Italy have and that they have won over the decades in post-war parliaments.

Moreover, they will have to ensure that good relations between Slovenia and Italy are not compromised because of the developments, she added.

Rojc is critical of some public figures in Slovenia welcoming Meloni's victory, including ex-prime minister and Democrats (SDS) leader Janez Janša. They have not comprehended what Meloni signifies, the senator said.

"Meloni is not a conservative liberal right, she is the far-right that was against the return of National Hall in Trieste to the Slovenian community and whose representatives have been posting anti-Slovenian sentiments and vow to strive to cut funding for the Slovenian minority as well as funding for the Italian minorities in Slovenia and Croatia."

This means Brothers of Italy is "an absolutely nationalist party that is against us and that will certainly not take Slovenia into account", Rojc said, urging Janša and like-minded people to keep this in mind.

Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob and Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon expressed their concerns at the beginning of September that Meloni's party might win the election.

President Borut Pahor congratulated Rojc on her re-election today, wishing her success in "strengthening neighbourly relations between Slovenia and Italy".

The president does not comment on the election outcome in Italy for now, the president's office told the STA.

Two other candidates of Slovenian descent who were running for a seat in the Chamber of Deputies in yesterday's election - Ilary Slatich of the Five Star Movement and Goran Čuk of the leftist Unione Popolare movement, which did not make it into parliament - have not been elected, Italian television Rai reported on its website.

Unlike the Italian minority in Slovenia, Slovenians in Italy do not have a guaranteed seat in parliament. Nevertheless, the Slovenian community have been represented in parliament without a hiatus since 1963.

The only way for them to get into the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the parliament, or the Senate of the Republic is to run on slates of Italian parties, and their chances of being elected are increased if they head the slate. So far, Slovenian political representation in Italy has been enabled by centre-left or left parties.

Rojc's re-election had been anticipated, as she headed the PD's slate in her region.

Before this election, the Slovenian community in Italy had warned that the chances of their representative being elected had been further reduced, as a reform had been adopted reducing the number of members of both houses of parliament.

Although Rojc had tabled a bill for constitutional reform, which would have allocated one permanent seat to a Slovenian representative, time ran out for this to even come up for discussion, as the government resigned in the meantime and the early election was called.

© STA, 2022