The Migrant Participation Project - Slovenia (Unofficial translation)
Type of Information
Franci Zlatar (Login to send email)
Contact Person Function
In Slovenia, political participation of third country nationals (TCNs) is absent in public discourses and immigrants' turnout at elections is not officially recorded. However, data collected through the European Social Survey suggest that long-settled non-EU-born adults (10+ stay) are a third likely to participate politically than their slovenian-born counterparts.
In this context, the Migrant Participation Project has carried out research and lobbying activities in Slovenia and 8 other participating countries in Central and Eastern Europe (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania) to strengthen the position of immigrants in the political life of their country of residence.
Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption
TCNs can participate in 2 types of elections of out the 6 organised in Slovenia. Those who hold a permanent residence permit have the right to vote (active electoral right) in local elections and referenda but can not run (passive electoral right) for City Council nor Mayorship in the same elections. This group made of 52.575 individuals in 2014 only represents 3% of eligible voters. The exclusion of TCNs holding temporary permits - which represent nearly 36% of all non-EU citizens of voting age - consequently limits the political power of non-EU migrants.
The project therefore aims to:
- increase the electoral participation of immigrants and the likelihood that their interests are taken into account
- increase their inclusion in decision-making processes of topics affecting them, via participation in municipal and governmental advisory bodies
- increase their civic engagement in different associations and encourage them to formulate their priorities.
How does it work
Overall, the project analysed the defined 3 axes of immigrant political participation in the 9 CEE EU states. It also identified good practices in selected EU states (Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Nederland, Spain, Belgium, Denmark) and developed recommendations and policy briefs. The publication
Focus on Slovenia
Although membership in political parties is an effective way to influence decision-making, TCNs are not allowed to be members of a political party in Slovenia. There are nevertheless some known Slovenian politicians with foreign background: the mayor of Ljubljana, Zoran Janković, has Serbian origins and the mayor of coastal city Piran, Peter Bossman, is a Ghanaian-born citizen. To know if membership of second generation or naturalised migrants was common practice in Slovenian parties, the national coordinator sent a questionnaire to 10 political parties at the beginning of the project. Out of the 5 that answered, only 2 report to have such members. Others did not collect data on the issue.
The the Slovene Philanthropy also lobbied for the inclusion of people with migrant background in the only advisory body for migrants in the country: the Council for the Inclusion of Foreigners.
One important achievement of the Migrant Participation Project - Slovenia is the election of 3 representatives with migrant background in the Council for the Inclusion of Foreigners: one from former Yugoslavia, one from an EU countries and one from a third country.
However, not all goals have been entirely reached:
- Goal 1 - Electoral participation: Mainstream politics continues to ignore interests of the immigrant population.
- Goal 2 - inclusion in decision-making: Despite the election of 3 representatives with migrant background in the Council for the Inclusion of Foreigners, the advisory body remains fairly inactive.
- Goal 3 - civic engagement: several immigrants are now engaging with participating civil society organisations such as the Slovene philanthropy, Humanitias and the Peace institute but no structural change has been made.
Overall, all proposed activities have been developed. An international conference was organised in Prague on 8-9 of April 2015 with 57 participants from 15 countries and a project web site containing all public information about the project has been released.
After evaluation, the project was considered as partly successful.
Who will benefit?
Third country nationals living in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as immigrant societies operating in these countries are the primary beneficiaries of the Migrant Participation Project. Decision makers and the society as such would also benefit from a better participation of all its members.
Source of funding and Resources used
With a budget of 52,764 EUR, the project was funded by the European Commission's DG Home Affairs, Migration, Asylum Directorate. 2 permanent staff members – project coordinator and expert on political participation - were hired.