12. Politics with prejudice

by Dr. Hellwig Valentin. From the book: "Der Sonderfall. Kärntner Zeitgeschichte 1918-2004/08", 2009, 2nd edition, Klagenfurt/Laibach-Ljubljana/Wien (Hermagoras-Verlag).

Translation by Liz Finney

On the subject of minority ethnic communities – this pivotal area of Carinthian contemporary history - the political elite of the state have failed by a long margin. Apart from some short-term exceptions, the parties have eluded responsibility for reasons of expediency, leaving the shaping of public opinion to far-reaching private organisations who dictated the political climate. Little has changed between now and then. This is how the Carinthian resistance fighters’ alliance in the spring of 2007 put it in full-page advertisements: bilingual place-name signs are „demarcators of frontiers“ which is why a planned proliferation of such inscriptions all over southern Carinthia constitute the threat of a „Slovenian territory“ in the making. There was also the observation that there is „for every historical legitimacy“ a compromise worth making by those who wanted to see „the break up of Carinthia and the annexation of our state to a foreign country“ - a reminder of the border disputes following the first and second world wars. In Autumn 2008 there was an explanation in a „home alliance“ calendar for 2009 that the neighbouring country to the south had „still today not yet relinquished“ its territorial claim. In this way they are trying to influence day to day politics with hackneyed ideas from history, by which means forward-looking solutions will be blocked. Although more weighty problems in economic and social spheres exist in the state, there is still a need to settle the so-called „Carinthian issue“, which remains the hub of regional politics around which everything else revolves. As long as the subject of minority ethnic communities is fuelled by stereotypical prejudices from the past, and certainly by the political events of today, Carinthia will remain a „special case“ in the contemporary history of Austria.

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