Slovenian community secures one seat in Friuli Venezia Giulia council
Marko Pisani has been elected to the Friuli Venezia Giulia Regional Council as the only member of the Slovenian ethnic minority to make it to the legislative assembly of this Italian region. The other Slovenian councillor, Danilo Slokar, failed to get re-elected in the regional elections on 2 and 3 April.
Bojan Brezigar, the Trieste correspondent for the newspaper Večer, writes that this is the first time ever that the Slovenian minority will have just one representative in the 48-member council of the region which is its home. One time in the past they had as many as five members.
Pisani, a councillor for the Slovenian Union (SSk), the only party of ethnic Slovenians, managed to get re-elected by a whisker. The party won 1.02% of the vote, just above the 1% electoral threshold set for a minority party if it links with another party. Pisani won the most preferential votes, 986.
Pisani has been serving as regional councillor since last year when he stepped in for Igor Gabrovec, who gave up his seat after being elected mayor of Duino-Aurisina, a municipality on the border with Slovenia.
Adverse demographic trends
Commenting on his election, Pisani told Italian broadcaster RAI he was happy the Slovenian minority party managed to keep its representative in the council, but conceded that it was a very tight race.
"I believe the result presents us with new dilemmas that will have to be addressed immediately after the election," he said.
This time around the party's showing was slightly poorer than the 1.16% that it mustered in the previous election five years ago. Pisani believes there are a number of reasons for this, including the impact of the demographic decline among minority members.
Following the election, an analysis should be made to find out what happened and what to do in the future," he said. The SSk saw the biggest drop in support in the Gorizia area.
The SSk believes that Pisani's re-election ensures the Slovenian community an "independent and sovereign voice" in the regional legislative assembly. The responsibility is the greater as he is the sole ethnic Slovenian to be elected.
Gabrovec, the party's regional secretary, said the party should overhaul its platform to address the decline in support. He believes the minority is running the risk of losing its representative in the council as its share of the vote is dispersed between candidates of different parties.
Ethnic Slovenian candidates also run for other parties, but they failed to win a sufficient number of preferential votes to make it to the council.
Standing for the centre-left Democratic Party, Valentina Repini won 1,504 votes, but did not win a seat because only two party members got elected in her district in Trieste and she ranked third.
Danilo Slokar, who has so far served as a councillor for the League, a right-wing party, finished second in his district, which was not enough for him to get elected to the legislative body.
Tatjana Rojc, an ethnic Slovenian who serves as senator in the Italian parliament for the Democratic Party, regretted that Repini did not get elected, but she told the STA that she had still achieved a remarkable result.
Call for permanent seat for minority
The umbrella organisations of the Slovenian minority hailed the fact that the SSk managed to get into the regional council, but also noted that the party squeezed in by a hair.
Ksenija Dobrila, head of the Slovenian Cultural and Economic Union, and Walter Bandelj, head of the Council of Slovenian Organisations, agree that the demographic decline is the reason for the poor showing.
Bandelj believes this will pose a problem in the future as well, so a solution should be found to secure the Slovenian minority a seat in the council that would not depend on passing the electoral threshold.
Massimiliano Fedriga, the centre-right president of Friuli Venezia Giulia, was re-elected the region's president in the first such instance in history with 64.2% of the vote, and the runner-up was Massimo Moretuzzo, from the centre-left, with 28.4% of the vote.
Candidates from 13 parties, movements or coalitions vied to fill the remaining 46 seats on the council. Turnout stood at 45.3%, which compares to 49.6% in the previous election.