STA, 12 November 2018 - Municipalities in Slovenia are obliged by law to provide a range of public services to residents. However, funding is often a tough task causing friction in relations with the government, which provides a considerable amount of money for municipal budgets.
All of the country's 212 municipalities must provide services such as day-care for pre-school children, primary school, primary healthcare and social services.
They are also obliged to manage local transport infrastructure, and provide utility, firefighting and environmental protection services.
They have to make sure that their local government institutions - from the city council and mayor to the city administration - carry out their tasks duly.
To provide all these services, which are generally set down in the local government law, municipalities receive funds from the state.
These funds are known as "povprečnina" and were introduced with the new local government act as of 2007. Their main source is personal income tax.
The amount a municipality receives a year is calculated as an annual lump sum per capita and transferred from the state budget.
It is calculated by the Finance Ministry on the basis of the average cost per capita the municipalities have spent in the past four years to provide their services.
The government and the municipalities have just recently reached a deal on the per capita budget transfer for 2019, meeting half way at EUR 573.5.
Robert Smrdelj, who heads one of the three municipal associations, says this is 20 euros higher than this year but still 35 euros below the projected costs for 2019.
Ever since 2011, municipalities have received lower budget transfers than they are legally entitled to.
Apart from the per capita budget transfer, municipalities expect the state to provide the funds for higher wages which are currently subject to public sector talks.
Although "povprečnina" is the main source of revenue, municipalities are also funded from other own sources.
They for instance collect a property tax known as the compensation for the use of building land, tourist tax, inheritance tax, and various fines.
Not insignificantly, they are also entitled to concession fees for the use of public good in their municipality or the tax on lottery prizes of their residents.
Nevertheless, municipalities and experts have been warning about insufficient funds, especially since they were cut during the crisis to fall below the guaranteed sum, while at the same time new tasks are being transferred onto them.
This makes funding extremely difficult, affecting especially new investments and infrastructure maintenance, posing a risk to the country's balanced development.
As municipalities carry out a number of infrastructure projects with the help of EU cohesion funds, they also fear they will not be able to secure the required share of own funds.
Boštjan Brezovnik from the Maribor Faculty of Law says municipalities are the founders of almost 1,100 public institutions which employ more than 60,000 workers, and can issue more than 1,200 different types of administrative decisions.
He says that many of their tasks are also set down or specified in laws governing individual fields, such as zoning or infrastructure construction.
They manage municipal property, take care of water systems, energy and utility objects and local sport infrastructure. Some are also in charge of air, water and soil quality as well as of waste management, he explains.
Municipalities differ greatly in the number of residents, but they are all obliged to provide all the services practically on an equal footing.
Brezovnik says "Slovenian law does not distinguish between small and large municipalities", noting that small municipalities with few civil servants are unable to carry out all of the allocated tasks.
"For instance, the smallest municipality, Hodoš, with 376 residents, and Ljubljana as the largest one with almost 290,000 residents, have equal powers and tasks."
To cut their costs, municipalities have joined forces as part of "joint municipal administrations", which carry out certain tasks for multiple municipalities. In 2017, there were 52 such administrations, with all but 10 municipalities taking part.
Nevertheless, some municipalities are heavily indebted, although total municipal debt, which rose during the crisis, dropped for the third year in a row in 2017.
According to a Finance Ministry report, their debt was at almost 842 million euro at the end of last year, down 0.3% from 2016, but more than double what it was a decade ago.
At the end of last year, only 16 municipalities had no debt, but these are mostly small municipalities.
In absolute terms, large municipalities have the biggest debt burdens, not least because they carry out the biggest investments.
For example, Ljubljana had the highest debt at the end of December - EUR 171m, followed by Maribor and Koper with EUR 63m and EUR 46m, respectively.
However, calculated per capita, large municipalities are often less indebted than smaller ones, which is also true for Ljubljana.
Its debt per capita was EUR 624, which made it one of the less indebted municipalities when the average per capita debt stood at EUR 408 in 2017, the report says.
Overall, municipal debt is not seen as a cause of concern, with the exception of a few municipalities which have had their accounts blocked for several years due to overdue debt from the past.
All our local election coverage can be found here
STA, 12 November 2018 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has told Marko Bandelli, the minister without portfolio in charge of development and EU cohesion funds, to resign or face dismissal over efforts to use his government clout to impact a local election. Reactions by the coalition parties indicate Bandelli would not survive a dismissal vote.
Šarec said he has warned Bandelli twice before about his communication, right after the government was appointed and then again a few weeks ago, when Bandelli came under fire for using emergency lights on his service vehicle. "Now I've decided he should leave."
Šarec and Bandelli met today after the story broke last week that Bandelli had threatened one of the candidates for the mayoral post in Komen (SW) with leaving the municipality without the support of his department and of the Infrastructure Ministry.
Both are controlled by the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), on whose slate Bandelli was elected the mayor of Komen in 2014 and earlier this year as MP, which meant he had to give up the mayoral post.
Bandelli, who left today's meeting with Šarec without a comment, had apologised for the September e-mail to Erik Modic, in which he accused the candidate of being driven merely by self-interest and a personal vendetta.
The apology was also highlighted in today's press release by SAB, whose leadership will meet to discuss the situation on Tuesday morning.
But Šarec said that neither the apology nor SAB's initial defence that mayors are used to a different style of communication was convincing. "It was also insulting to all current, past and perhaps future mayors," said Šarec, who used to serve as the mayor of Kamnik.
While the largest parliamentary party, the opposition Democrats (SDS) already threatened with a dismissal motion ahead of today's meeting, the first reaction by SAB's fellow junior coalition parties confirmed Bandelli would not survive a vote were he to hold on to the post.
The Modern Centre Party (SMC) welcomed Šarec's decision, arguing Bandelli had undermined trust in the government. In the case of vote, the SMC would back the dismissal, as would the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) whose Karl Erjavec said he would have probably acted the same way as Šarec in such a situation.
Erjavec however indicated that the Komen e-mail had not been the sole reason for Šarec's decision. According to his knowledge, Bandelli also still owes the PM a report on the drawing of EU funds.
The SocDems, another junior coalition party, did not wish to comment on the situation today, but with the ruling Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) naturally sharing the view of the prime minister, Bandelli's fate seems sealed.
"I'm convinced I did the right thing. We'll see what happens next," Šarec said.
The controversial correspondence was reportedly not an isolated case of the minister communicating inappropriately with a candidate in the Komen election.
Media also highlighted an October exchange on Facebook with Sergio Stancich, in which Bandelli expressed support for Stancich's rival candidate Dean Zalesjak, announcing the latter would "of course get maximum political support, know-how and ministerial information".
He later argued that he just highlighted the obvious fact that "mayors and municipal councillors of parties that are part of the government have easier access to ministers".
The news portal Siol reported last week that Bandelli erased his profiles on social networks last week.
In general, Bandelli appears to have not performed according to expectations, in particular now that the government has come under heavy pressure due to the poor drawing of EU funds.
Unofficial information obtained by the STA suggest Šarec demanded Bandelli that he present measures to improve the phasing of EU cohesion policy funds by last week, something the minister did not do.
But the demand that he resign also comes in the midst of rising tensions between Šarec and Brastušek, who recently requested a government debate about the realization of coalition priorities.
Her party attempting to take over the mantle of pensioner protection from the DeSUS, she said she would not rescind her demands for significantly higher pensions, even as the government faces demands from public sector unions that could run into several hundred million euro per year.
If Bandelli resigns or is dismissed, he will be allowed by law to return to the National Assembly as an MP.
All our local election stories are here
STA, 12 November - Slovenian voters will head to the polls on Sunday to elect mayors and local councils in 212 municipalities. Coming less than half a year after the general election, the vote will be closely watched for signs of shifting political sentiment, but the results are likely to make for a poor barometer of the political climate in the nation.
For well over a decade, local elections have been dominated by truly hyperlocal issues, and 2018 does not look any different. In fact, judging by the candidacies and the handful of polls carried out, the vote may simply affirm trends that have become entrenched in the last decade-plus.
For one, large parties that are established at the national level do not necessarily perform well in local elections, with two constant exceptions: the Democrats (SDS) on the right and the Social Democrats (SD) on the left.
The SDS has won the last three local elections in terms of the total share of the vote for local council, while the SD has been near the top, finishing third in 2014, second in 2010 and third in 2006.
In 2006, the second strongest party was the Liberal Democracy (LDS), which has since disappeared from the political map, and in 2014 the runner-up position went to the then newly established Miro Cerar Party, since then renamed the Modern Centre Party (SMC).
The People's Party (SLS) has always done well and finished in fourth place in the last three elections, a feat achieved in 2014 despite having just been ejected from the National Assembly in what was a major upset for the once major political player.
In terms of the number of mayors, the SLS has been the undisputed leader, having the highest number of mayors of any party even in 2014, seemingly regardless of its fluctuating fortunes on the national political arena.
These results reflect Slovenia's low rate of urbanisation, which is among the lowest in Europe, and the fragmentation of local communities.
The vast majority of Slovenia's municipalities are rural. Only 11 of the 212 qualify as urban, and the smallest among them has only 17,000 inhabitants.
In small rural communities, conservative parties tend to do well, and because there are so many small municipalities, centre-right parties have an upper hand by default when it comes to the sheer number of mayors.
But even more importantly, there has been a surge in independent and semi-independent parties and local lists, which have come to dominate the fragmented local political landscape.
In 2006, 67 mayors were elected from independent local lists. The figure rose to 70 in 2010 before exploding to 115 in the last election in 2014; that year, the SDS won 14.3% of the vote and had 31 mayors as the strongest individual party.
The trend is similar when one looks at the number of local councillors elected. In absolute terms strong parties such as the SDS have the highest number of local councillors, but independents have been gaining ground.
Independents accounted for just under 20% of all councillors elected in 2006 but 22% in 2010 and over 29% in 2014. Additionally, a tenth of councillors in each of those years was elected on the slates of smaller national or regional parties.
Another major trend driving Slovenian local elections has been the advantage of incumbency, which has been accelerating.
A 2015 study of local elections in Slovenia revealed that the rate of re-election rose from 77% in 1998 to over 80% in 2006 and as high as 84% in 2014.
As of 2018, ten of the 212 mayors have been in office for almost 24 years and many more have been mayors since their municipalities were first established (municipalities were created in several rounds in 1995, 1998, 2006 and 2011).
The incumbency advantage is so large that in as many as 36 municipalities, there is a single candidate for mayor, 35 of them being incumbents.
One major source of uncertainty disrupting these trends is the Slovenian tradition, especially on the left, of the rapid creation of parties, some of which tend to burn down fairly quickly.
In 2011, for example, the party of Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković won 28% of the vote in the general election. But, unable to form a government, the party pretty much collapsed in time for the 2014 local election and won just 0.25% of the votes for local council.
In 2014, on the other hand, the newly established SMC profited from its win in the general election to finish second by the share of the local council vote. Nevertheless, it did not manage to get a single mayor elected despite fielding candidates in 40 municipalities.
This year, it is the prime minister's Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) that is in a unique position. It finished as runner-up in the spring general election with 12.6% of the vote, half of what the election winner, the SDS, received, and then managed to put together a five-party coalition.
But the party has its roots as a local player in Kamnik, where Šarec served as two-term mayor, and it has not yet built up a network of local chapters, which are seen as key for any party planning to become a serious player at the local level.
The LMŠ plans to field candidates in just 40 municipalities while also backing several candidates of other parties.
Given these trends, it seems likely that the SDS, SD and SLS may once again emerge as the strongest parties in the nation-wide tally, but independents, especially incumbents, are just as likely to affirm or even extend their dominance.
In the end, the results will probably give many players a cause for celebration. Some will brag with the number of mayors and local councillors, others will celebrate their outsize influence at the local level, and some will be happy with anything short of disaster.
You can find our guides to all the main political parties here
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, November 09, 2018.
STA, 9 November - The left-leaning weekly Mladina says in its latest commentary that Foreign Minister Miro Cerar is actually criticising his former self as prime minister as he is changing his mind on Slovenia's support for the UN Global Compact for Migration.
In the commentary headlined Cerar against Cerar, editor-in-chief Grega Repovž notes that Cerar had said that "Slovenia endorsed this spring the Global Compact for Migration, but that the circumstances have changed since".
"'Slovenia must make sure ... that the present way of life, the European way of life is preserved'", Repovž quotes Cerar, wondering what is the European way of life he was referring to, adding that "we are in a serious trouble".
If you take a look at the list of countries which decided not to endorse the document, which is expected to be adopted in Marrakesh in December, one can see that it is not a list of countries of the European way of life.
"Hungary, Poland, Croatia, Austria - is this the company Minister Cerar would like to push Slovenia into?", Repovž wonders.
UN document clearly separates migrants and refugees
What is funny is that Cerar speaking about "changed circumstances" reads like criticism of Miro Cerar as prime minister, who agreed with the European Commission acceding to the Global Compact for Migration.
"As long as the accession to the Marrakesh agreement was something the European Union expected us to do, this had to be done. How provincial and typical."
But immediately after the right started expressing doubt about the document, the foreign minister was quick to talk about changed circumstances.
Cerar and Prime Minister Marjan Šarec should actually defend the agreement and stand behind it, present it to the public, introduce it into public discourse as a positive shift. But Cerar is obviously not taking the document seriously.
It is actually a very though-through, relatively conservative document, which very clearly separates the issues of refugees and migrants. Politicians could use it to stand against the rightist agenda which abuses migrants for populist purposes, concludes the commentary.
STA, 8 November 2018 - The right-wing magazine Demokracija sets out its case against the UN Global Compact for Migration in its latest editorial, asserting that signing the declaration without seeking people's endorsement in a referendum first would be high treason.
Referring to the 2005 riots in France, the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and Muslim ghettoes in Europe, such as Molenbeek on the outskirts of Brussels, editor-in-chief Jože Biščak argues that European countries are losing the battle against the spread of "Eurabia".
"Pockets of little Eurabias are scattered throughout the western part of the continent. Whenever right-wing politicians try to restore state jurisdiction over their territories, violent unrest follows.
The only solution is to use “brutal power” to remove immigrants
"The planned signing in December of the Marrakesh Declaration, which is irreversibly taking away countries' sovereign right to decide on migration flows on their territories, could seal the fate of Europe as we know it. This is why signing the declaration without having asked people's opinion in referendum will be high treason."
Biščak says that the way for Europe's Islamisation was paved by the 1975 Strasbourg Resolution, backed by 200 members of parliament from West European countries.
The resolution said that Arab immigrants to Europe had a right to transfer their culture, customs, way of life and religion to Europe.
"The native population tried to preserve their customs and traditions, but the political authorities did not demand of the immigrants to integrate in the western society, but rather let the Muslim immigrants, joined by blacks from Africa, to create their territories (little Eurabias) where they live by their rules. An the Marrakesh Declaration will legalise all that."
Finally, Biščak says that the only solution is to use "brutal power" and to have the army surround these Little Eurabias and move all the immigrants out of the country.
STA, 7 November 2018 - Slovenia's opposition leader Janez Janša addressed the European People Party's (EPP) congress in Helsinki on Wednesday, calling for unity in defence of the foundations of European democracy against internal and external threats.
The leader of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), one of around 15 European centre-right party leaders to address the event, said this was a moment in time which called for defence of the foundations of European civilisation from within and from the outside world.
As internal threats Janša described pressures by various forms of "cultural Marxism" that were trying to dismantle the family, national and European identity, private property, private education and religion.
From the outside, the European civilisation is facing a massive and increasing demographic pressure on ageing Europe, Janša said, adding this was used as a political weapon by the radical Islam.
"A combination of the two threats at the moment poses the biggest danger to the European civilisation since the collapse of the Soviet Union," said Janša.
He said defence of the European civilisation's foundations was the most pressing task for the EPP, which was the only group strong enough to lead the defence based on common values.
Čeprav ni in nikoli ne bo enotne evropske nacionalne kulture, evropska civilizacija obstaja že stoletja. Vsaka civilizacija je stalno podvržena izzivom. Pridejo tudi časi, ko so ogroženi njeni lastni temelji in ko jih je treba braniti. Zdaj živimo v takšnem trenutku. #Up2Eu pic.twitter.com/PGeagDlQI6— Janez Janša (@JJansaSDS) November 7, 2018
“Although there is no and there will never be a single European national culture, the European civilisation has been there for centuries. Every civilisation is constantly subject to challenges. There are also times when their own foundations are threatened and when they are to be defended. Now we live in a moment like this. “
"The defence of the very core of our civilisation is the most important priority and the noblest goal that we must be united on. We belong to the European People's Party so it's our duty to fight for a united, strong and free Europe and to provide security, opportunity and a predictable future to the Europeans.
"If voters in Europe see and feel our unity and resolve, the EPP will win the next European election with a landslide," Janša said.
STA, 7 November 2018 - Representatives of the government and municipalities on Wednesday signed a letter of intent that sets municipal funding provided by the state at EUR 573.5 per capita. The pledge was also made to draw up legislative changes within six months that will help reduce the costs carried by municipalities.
Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj signed on behalf of the government, while the heads of the three associations of municipalities, Branko Ledinek, Robert Smrdelj and Matej Arčon, signed on behalf of local government.
Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, who was also on hand, said municipalities had hoped for more, but an agreement was reached as they understood the general financial picture in the country.
The per-capita funding figure is a source of tensions each year. The government and municipalities were still relatively far apart in October, with the former proposing EUR 570 per capita and the latter at least EUR 575.44.
Šarec announced this was only the first step in improved cooperation between the government and municipalities. The plan is to also work together in an upgrade of relevant legislation, which is plagued by various issues that the PM finds more burning than per capita funding.
Šarec, who served as the mayor of Kamnik until recently, said few people could really imagine all the tasks municipalities were dealing with.
"This government understands this very well," he said, announcing a joint effort to secure "legislation that will allow them to develop more effectively, while also securing transparency".
The EUR 573.5 figure, which remains to be confirmed by the government and by parliament, was welcomed by the municipal representatives, who spoke of a compromise. Smrdelj said it is 20 euros higher than the funding for this year but still 35 euros below the projected costs for 2019.
The funding provided by the state is meant for a range of services municipalities are obliged to carry out by law, such as primary school, primary healthcare and social security services.
The funds provided by the government for local government are known as "povprečnina", whose main source is personal income tax.
The amount a municipality receives a year is calculated as an annual lump sum per capita and transferred from the state budget.
STA, 6 November 2018 - The opposition Democrats (Slovenska demokratska stranka - SDS) have requested an extraordinary session of the National Assembly to debate the UN-sponsored global compact for migration. MP Branko Grims said Tuesday the party demands the Slovenian government reject the agreement in its entirety.
The SDS is against the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration because "it treats all migrants in the same way, and eliminates state borders in the long-term".
The party fears the agreement would present a burden for Slovenia in terms of finances and in general, and would result in a downfall of Slovenia as well as other European countries, according to Grims.
He stressed that an increasing number of countries had already withdrawn from it, including the US and three of Slovenia's four neighbours.
See our guide to Slovenia’s main political parties here
Saying that the agreement is not binding on Slovenia is misleading, according to Grims. While it is true that parties to it are not legally bound by the deal, they are bound by it politically, he stressed.
Signatures for the request of the parliamentary session were contributed by another two opposition parties, New Slovenia (NSi) and the National Party (SNS).
Jožef Horvat, who heads the NSi's deputy group, told the press the government should not support the deal because it does not address the issue of how to eliminate the causes of migrations.
The NSi would like the National Assembly to pass a resolution recommending that the government "encourage seeking within EU and UN institutions a solution to eliminate the causes of migrations in source countries".
Slovenia had endorsed the drafting of the agreement, but the Foreign Ministry stressed on Monday that it was not binding and that it gave countries' sovereignty to shape their own migration policies.
The document, the first international agreement on migration management aimed at improving cooperation on this issue, will be adopted in Marrakesh, Morocco, next month.
See all our stories on immigration in Slovenia here
STA, 4 November 2018 - Slovenia is among the least influential countries in the EU, but it is also deeply committed to integration, according to study by European Council on Foreign Relations, a London think-tank.
Slovenia placed alongside Latvia, Malta and Croatia as the country with the least influence on EU policy, with the four countries tied at 25th place among 28 member states.
Slovenia is also 25th along with Bulgaria, Croatia and Malta in terms how influential it is in general in the bloc.
The study, called EU Coalition Explorer, singles out Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands as the most influential countries overall.
Slovenia ranked high when it comes to fighting for deeper integration, placing 14th and beating the likes of Sweden and Finland.
When it comes to priorities, Slovenia is most active in common asylum policy, single fiscal policy, single market and single eurozone supervision.
Indeed, it is the most vocal advocate of the notion that all member states should be involved in a single fiscal policy.
Overall, Slovenia is of the opinion that the majority of common policies should be shaped by all member states.
It sees Germany as its best partner in policy making, followed by France and Italy.
Slovenia also ranks high, in 16th place, among countries that disappointed the least in the past two years; Hungary is seen as the country that disappointed the most.
The ECFR compiled the survey, which was released earlier this week, based on questions posed to 877 experts from all member states who are active in EU policy, be it in media, government or institutions.
You can find a PDF of the full study here – it’s 1113 pages long
STA, 3 November 2018 - Andrej Šiško, the leader of a self-proclaimed local para-military formation, will remain in custody after the Supreme Court upheld the argument of lower courts that he represents a danger to the constitutional order.
"There are reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect formed a para-military unit and called for the formation of other militias across Slovenia that would, when the time is right, bring down the highest authorities of the state," the Supreme Court.
The decision, announced on Friday, comes in response to an appeal by the defence, which argued that Šiško's conduct did not amount to instigation to the subversion of the constitutional order, the crime Šiško is suspected of.
Save for a brief intermission, Šiško has been in detention since early September, a week after video surfaced of him lining up several dozen men, some armed, wearing balaclavas and conducting what appeared to be basic military training.
Šiško, a former ultras who served prison for attempted murder, has argued that this was a provocation meant to disclose how Slovenian media work, but at the same time he called for the establishment of other such militias around the country.
The Supreme Court said the suspect's conduct, from the utterance of a threat against then Prime Minister Miro Cerar in January 2017 to the formation of the para-military unit, was sufficient at this point in proceedings to warrant his detention.
In making the decision, the court went against the argument of the prosecution, which held that whether Šiško should be remanded in detention should be re-examined by lower courts.
The prosecution's 27 September opinion caused uproar. It was penned by Supreme State Prosecutor Barbara Brezigar, who has for years been close to the opposition Democrats (SDS) and once ran for president with their support; one of Šiško's co-defendants was a member of the SDS's youth wing.
While Šiško is in detention, the investigation continues. Darko Simonič, the head of the Maribor branch of the State Prosecution, told the STA earlier this week that additional witnesses would be interviewed next week.
Šiško has been active in politics for years and ran in last year's presidential election. This year he is one of 18 candidates for mayor of Maribor.
STA, 3 November 2018 - President Borut Pahor held up peace and the persistent building of democracy as ways of countering fascism as he responded to a far right manifestation in Trieste on Saturday.
"In the previous century, three totalitarianisms left behind a terrible trail of suffering, including fascism, which they plan on reviving at the rally in Trieste today."
"We can counter them by persistently building democracy, which facilitates the freedom of speech and the expression of different beliefs but not the freedom of hatred," he wrote in a message on Twitter.
He warned that peace and democracy may not be taken for granted and are not passed down genetically, they are handed down with actions.
"We have the right to freedom, but that freedom is circumscribed with the freedom of others. Let us therefore act tolerantly and build harmony, within and among nations," he said.
Predsednik Republike Slovenije Borut Pahor: pic.twitter.com/dCbBmOMN3H— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) November 3, 2018
In a separate tweet, Pahor said that he would expound on this issue at a speech marking the centenary of the end of WWI he plans to deliver at Žale Cemetery on Friday.
His statements come in reaction to a rally by the extremist CasaPound group in Trieste, which ostensibly marks the centenary of the end of WWI but is seen as a show of force of a resurgent extreme right.
A counter-rally was staged today by anti-fascist groups.
Other Slovenian officials, including Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and Speaker Dejan Židan, have expressed concern about the far-right rally.
STA, 3 November 2018 - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan expressed concern ahead of a rally by Italian far right group CasaPound in Trieste, arguing that the rise of neo-fascism risked undermining good cross-border cooperation.
"Fascism needs to be resisted - with tolerance, cooperation and courage. We have to be harbingers of cooperation and reject practices that had caused so much evil in Slovenia and Europe," he said in a video message posted on Twitter.
He said he was "concerned to see neo-fascists rallying, concerned about the lack of condemnation of neo-fascism, not least because this is not a phenomenon confined to a single country."
Židan's statement came ahead of a rally in Trieste that it seen as a showcase of resurgent far-right extremism in the country. The rally was condemned yesterday by Prime Minister Marjan Šarec.
Slovenian officials have been urged to reach by the Slovenian minority in Italy, which fears that the sentiment, though ostensibly targeted at unchecked migration, may end up being channelled against members of the minority.
STA, 2 November 2018 - A neo-fascist rally scheduled to take place in Trieste, Italy on Saturday has raised concern in Slovenia, with fear being voiced in particular about the impact rising far-right sentiment will have on the Slovenian ethnic community living in the area.
Prime Minister Marjan Šarec described the rally by the far-right CasaPound as "salt on the never healed wounds of the Primorska Slovenians in the homeland and in the diaspora." "Fascism has always been evil incarnate, and it may not be supported!" he wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Tigr Primorske, an association dedicated to preserving the memory of a pre-WWII anti-fascist organisation called TIGR, has issued a call to President Borut Pahor to caution his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella about the possible instigation of hatred.
The Slovenian government, meanwhile, should let the Italian authorities and the EU know that the rally in Trieste "insults the emotions and the tradition of the resistance," thereby denying the very concept of post-war Europe, the organisation said in a press release on Friday.
The office of President Pahor said the president had already spoken up about some similar events in Italy, while also telling Mattarella during their last meeting that nationalist statements were being met with concern and opposition in Slovenia.
Mattarella will speak in Trieste on Sunday "and president Pahor expects that he will respond if needed," his office said.
In a similar vein, the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) designated the scheduled rally as an event that should never happen because it celebrates an ideology that resulted in "crime and tragedy in the previous century."
"The centenary of the end of WWI should serve as an appeal to peace, coexistence and compassion, not as a reason for renewed glorification of chilling and dangerous ideas," the party said.
The appeals come in response to the rally by CasaPound, a far-right neo-fascist movement that has been gaining momentum in north Italy.
The local authorities have not banned the rally despite numerous appeals to do so, but they restricted the path of the march so that it does not come close to some of the landmarks that are significant for the Slovenian ethnic community, including the Narodni Dom and the monument to the Basovizza heroes.
The Slovenian community living in and around Trieste has recently warned that the atmosphere in Italy is so toxic it could not be ignored, with CasaPound by no means the only demonstration thereof.
The Slovenian Cultural and Economic Union (SKGZ), one of the minority's biggest organisations in Italy, said earlier this week it was no longer possible to look the other way.
To counter the CasaPound rally, several anti-fascist organisations have announced a counter-rally in Trieste that is expected to draw several thousand people. Many members of the Slovenian community in Trieste are expected to to attend the counter-protest.