STA, 8 March 2019 - Zoran Poznič, a 59-year-old cultural manager and new media curator, was appointed as Slovenia's new culture minister by the National Assembly on Friday by 47 votes in favour and 19 against.
Poznič has been heading Delavski Dom Trbovlje, a progressive cultural centre in the mining town of Trbovlje, for almost a decade.
He joined the junior coalition Social Democrats (SD) after offering himself as a candidate to the party, and now succeeds Dejan Prešiček, who was forced out of office in January amid bullying allegations.
In his hearing before the parliamentary Culture Committee, Poznič said one of his priorities would be to have a national culture programme for the period between 2020 and 2026 adopted this year.
He also pledged to seek to tackle the status of the self-employed and NGOs in the culture sector, and see to digitalisation of cultural heritage, among other things.
He expects that the culture euro law could become operational by the summer, considering that the draft proposal is all but ready.
Poznič also called for new media legislation, for curbing hate speech in the media, and opening up the room for new media that would support quality criticism in culture and investigative reporting.
Prime Minister Šarec said during today's debate that he expected a lot from Poznič and expressed the hope that stakeholders in culture would give him an opportunity to prove himself.
"Unlike many, I personally perceive the culture department as equal to others, as a field which must not lag behind in its ambitiousness," the prime minister added.
Šarec expects solutions from the new minister, pointing to the culture euro law, a new media law and a new national programme for culture.
"To put it short, I expect a new momentum and proposals for how to make the necessary breakthrough," Šarec said, adding that he expected the relationships at the ministry under the new boss to be appropriate.
Šarec hopes that the employees at the ministry had given the entire situation a thought and that they would "prefer work to complaining and replace the stories about the undermined trust with diligence."
While the coalition MPs endorsed Poznič, the opposition Democrats (SDS) had announced they would vote against, and the opposition Left, New Slovenia (NSi) and National Party (SNS) said they would not oppose Poznič.
Alenka Jeraj (SDS) took issue with Poznič offering himself as a candidate, saying that one would expect from a serious party like the SD to find an appropriate candidate within its own ranks.
Violeta Tomić of the Left said that culture in Trbovlje had entered a new era with Poznič, whom she labelled a good manager and a person who has a feel for workers' rights.
Ljudmila Novak (NSi) noted that Poznič would be facing problems not becoming the the Culture Ministry, as he first had to improve the damaged personal relationships in the institution.
Zmago Jelinčič (SNS) said that the candidate had said nothing about the protection of the Slovenian language and Slovenian cultural heritage.
Growing up in a mining family, Poznič graduated in sculpture from the Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts in 2007, obtaining a master's degree in video and new media two years later.
He was appointed director of DDT, a worker's home-turned cultural centre, in 2008, setting out a new vision of the town under the slogan Trbovlje New Media Town.
The project brings together creative potential of people in the local and broader communities, combining with global trends in new media. Its central feature is the new media culture festival Speculum Artium.