The campaigning continues...
On Wednesday night, Televizija Slovenija (TVS) featured a debate among the five leading non-parliamentary parties. The parties participating were the Democrats of Slovenia (DS), the New Party (NOVA), the United Greens (ZZS), the Slovene Youth Party (SMS) and New Slovenia-Christian People's Party (NSi).
The platform of the politically-center Democrats of Slovenia stress state sovereignty, military neutrality, fundamental citizens' rights and the protection of national interests. Asked about their position on European Union (EU) membership, DS representatives told TVS that they are not euroskeptics, but eurorealists. Slovenia should seek slower integration.
If they enter the government after the election, their priority would be allocating more resources to families and parents. For the election, DS is spending about SIT (Slovene Tolar) 20 million (USD 84,000).
The politically-center United Greens promise to improving the quality of life throughout the country, and to focus greater attention on the environment. They are not opposed to EU membership, and their priority, should they participate in the government, would be to push through changes in tax policies to charge polluters higher taxes. They have a budget of SIT 5 million (USD 21,000) for the current election.
NOVA is politically left, and two-thirds of their candidates in this election are women. Their platform stresses equal opportunity for both sexes, women's policies, social protection, the development of education and military neutrality. They are opposed to both EU and NATO membership, believing that military ties with other states are unnecessary. NOVA's priority, should it join the government, would be solid and balanced social development. They have a minimal budget for the elections provided by members and supporters.
The SMS (see article in current issue of CER) is non-ideological and considers itself neither left nor right. Party President Dominik S Černjak told TVS that the SMS is not afraid of EU membership, and that his party's priority, if it is able to participate in the next government, would be to work towards lowering the budget deficit, as well as education for the young. The party's budget is also modest, consisting primarily of contributions.
Prime Minister Andrej Bajuk founded the NSi at the end of this summer. The party is right-center politically. If NSi is able to continue as part of the government after the election, its priorities would be lowering unemployment and balancing the national budget. The major source of the party's budget is the DEM 1000 "entry fee" the party required from anyone who wanted to run as a candidate.
On Tuesday, SDS leader Janez Janša and NSi leader and Prime Minister Andrej Bajuk signed an agreement on cooperation during and after the election. The agreement has created "Coalition Slovenia." The coalition is now trying to lay claim to the heritage of the former Slovene Spring coalition formed just after Slovene independence. The Slovene Spring coalition united the conservative SLS, SKD and SDS parties.
Prime Minister Bajuk's approval ratings continue to fall. The daily Dnevnik published the results of its periodic public opinion poll on Monday; only 22.7 percent of those polled said they support Bajuk's government. An overwhelming 63.8 percent said they do not. Members of Bajuk's NSi party all support him. Also, he has a small proportion of support from within the ranks of the SDS and SLS+SKD. The educational background of the poll respondents also reveals an interesting fact: among all respondents possessing a higher education, 71.3 percent do not support Bajuk.
Slovene news from around the world
Several Slovene films are making their way through the international film festival circuit this month. In the first days of October, the short film Hop, Skip & Jump by Srdjan Vuletič will be shown at the Vancouver film festival. It was also shown in mid-September at the Greek Festival of Short Films.
The animated film Socializacija Bika 1 (The Socialization of Bull 1) by Zvonko Čoh and Milan Erič was also shown this month at the International Animated Film Festival in Ottawa. Nataša Prosenc's short film Večer (Evening) won a special jury prize at the Brooklyn Film Festival earlier this month.
Damjan Kozole's highly successful Porno Film was shown in mid-September at a festival at Figueiri da Foz, Portugal, and at another in Umea, Sweden. Janez Burger's film V Leru (Idle Running) continues to travel the festival circuit; it was shown at the Milan film festival earlier this month.
The University of Edmonton, Canada, hosted an international symposium dedicated to Slovenia's national poet, called "France Prešeren and His Times: A Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of His Birth." Organized by Tom Priestly, the major translator of Prešeren's work into English, the conference attracted a number of students and academics, as well as Ambassador Božo Cerar.
Among the speakers was professor Miran Hladnik of the University of Ljubljana, Henry Cooper of Indiana University (USA) and professors Božena and Emil Tokarz of the Silesian University of Poland. The event concluded with an evening of bi-lingual poetry readings and other performances at Edmonton's Slovene Society.
Andrej Pavlišič, a Slovene, was among those arrested this week at the anti-globalization protests in Prague. It is expected that the Czech authorities will release him from custody quickly. About 12,000 protestors are in Prague, and Czech police have arrested 859 of them. Of those, 330 were foreigners.
The results of illiteracy research carried out by the Slovene Andragoška Center as part of an international project were released this week. Researchers claim that this is the first time literacy of Slovenes from 16 to 65 was objectively tested.
National statistics show a 99 percent literacy rate, while UN data shows 96 percent. The researchers pointed out that the illiteracy rates uncovered are made all the more worse by the fact that they may feed Slovenia's high suicide rate.
The research focused on how respondents used writing skills in various settings. It showed that most respondents have vocabularies that are too limited. The weekly Mladina poked fun at the results, which show that Slovenes are illiterate according to the research's criteria. Mladina reports that most of the respondents see no problem with their shortcoming, and function normally in daily life.
The World Health Organization named Laško Brewery's "Laško is Law!" advertising campaign the most damaging in Europe. The ads feature children and many fear they promote underage drinking. While legislation is in place all over Europe to prevent children from being used in such ads, it is still being prepared in Slovenia. Earlier this year, the Slovene Advertisers' Association named the campaign the years best, over the protests of the Ministry of Health.
In Slovenia, more than 30 percent of automobile-related deaths are at the hands of drunk drivers, and the figure rises sharply on Saturdays to 70 percent. Up to 40 percent of domestic quarrels involving the police also involve alcohol. 30 percent of those who seek medical help or social assistance do so because of alcohol. In terms of the number of alcoholics and the number of deaths due to cirrhosis, Slovenia is only topped by Russia and Hungary.
Slovenia leads the medal count (per capita)
Rowers Iztok Čop and Luka Špik won Slovenia its first gold medal, in the double sculls race last Saturday. The pair were favorites going into the race, but there was concern that their confidence might have been shaken after gold medal favorite Mitja Petkovšek came up short only days before.
The medal was not only the first Slovenia has won at the Sydney Games, but also the first gold medal a Slovene athlete has won since independence in 1991. This was Špik's first Olympic Games, while Čop had won a bronze medal in 1992 at Barcelona.
Mere hours after Čop and Špik won theirs, Rajmond Debevec won Slovenia's second gold medal, in the 50m rifle three-position event. This was Debevec's fifth time competing at the Olympics.
Runner Brigita Langerholc almost secured Slovenia's third medal of the Games, but fell short. Langerholc came in fourth place in the women's 800 meter race, but did manage to finish with a new Slovene national record.
Apparently, if countries are ranked according to gold medals per capita, Slovenia comes out first in the world. The two gold medals mean that the per capita rate is 1 gold medal per approximately 1 million people. Australia is in second place, with one gold medal per approximately 1.3 million. The US, which leads the official medal count, sits in 30th place on this ranking, with 1 gold per 8.4 million.
The per capita ranking is featured in a 30 September article in the British newspaper The Times as well as on this website.
Brian J Požun, 2 October 2000
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