Carinthian Slovenian Smrtnik makes it to state assembly

Klagenfurt, 6 March - Carinthian Slovenian Franc Jožef Smrtnik made it to the 36-member state assembly of Carinthia in Sunday's election as he ran on the Team Kärnten list. The Slovenian minority has expressed the hope on the occasion that Peter Kaiser of the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) will stay on as the governor of Carinthia.

Klagenfurt, Austria
Landhaus Klagenfurt, the seat of the Carinthian parliament.
Photo: Bor Slana/STA
File photo

Klagenfurt, Austria
Klagenfurt, the capital of Austria's Carinthia, the region where the majority of Slovenians in Austria live.
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA
File photo

Smrtnik, the former mayor of Železna Kapla/Eisenkappel, told the minority weekly Novice that Team Kärnten had accomplished an exceptional feat, and praised the leader of the list, Gerhard Köfer, for giving a Carinthian Slovenian the opportunity to enter the state assembly.

"We are making history again" and "I'm proud to be able to participate in this team and I'm sure that it will be possible to make some progress in the coming years," Smrtnik said.

The National Council of Carinthian Slovenians (NSKS) said that Smrtnik was an experienced politician who would represent the minority in the assembly in the best possible way.

Bernard Sadovnik, the head of the Community of Carinthian Slovenians, assessed that Smrtnik making it to the assembly strengthened the position of the minority and proved that society had opened up when it came to Carinthian Slovenians.

"[Smrtnik] also proved that parties are not harmed if they place representatives of the Slovenian minority on their lists," he said, noting that Team Kärnten had been gaining support throughout the entire state.

Commenting on the preliminary election result, the minority organisations expressed the hope that the government of Carinthia will still be headed by Peter Kaiser of the SPÖ, which emerged as the relative winner but suffered a heavy loss compared to 2018.

Manuel Jug, the president of the Association of Slovenian Organisations (ZSO), said the most favourable option for the minority would be a coalition of the SPÖ and the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), which is also currently in power.

The NSKS added that the two parties had ruled the state "rather harmoniously", and that Kaiser would be the best possible candidate for the governor as far as Slovenians are concerned.

Sadovnik wants and expects a new coalition to be inclined to the minority, while the NSKS and Jug noted that the Freedom Party (FPÖ), which had campaigned against the minority and "Slovenisation" of Catinthia, has failed to improve its standing in the state assembly.

© STA, 2023