Coat-of-arms of Republic of SloveniaRepublic of Slovenia
15 Years of Slovenian StateSlovensko

The Creation of the Republic of Slovenia and its Development

The independent state of the Republic of Slovenia was created on 26 June 1991 out of the federal republic of Slovenia, which was previously a part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The country of Slovenia emerged in the first half of the 19th century as a term to denote the territory in the southern area of the Austrian dominions inhabited by a Slovene-speaking population. Up until 1918 under the Austrians no political territory with such a name had been formed, but the concept of Slovenia had nevertheless acquired a socially tangible and potentially even political dimension. After the First World War the majority of Slovenia's territory came under the Yugoslav state, in which the Slovenian people lived their own autonomous cultural life. After the Second World War the communist federal Yugoslav state gained further slices of Slovenian ethnic territory from Italy, and the Slovenian republic thereby incorporated a greater part of the actual Slovenian ethnic lands, complete with an opening to the Adriatic Sea at Koper.

Within federal Yugoslavia, the Slovenian nation made good progress both economically and culturally, and consolidated its national existence despite the communist regime which ruled Yugoslavia after the Second World War.

In the acute crisis facing the Yugoslav communist system from the middle of the 1980's, a crisis that was also manifested in interethnic relations, it became clear that the Yugoslav communists, including those of Slovenia, were not able to offer any new paths for the continued development of the multi-ethnic Yugoslav state community. It became clear that the social, economic, cultural and political structure of the Slovenian nation was not compatible with the structures of the other Yugoslav nations.

It was thus that in the spring of 1987 a group of intellectuals with anti-communist leanings appeared, centring themselves around the Nova revija magazine and contributing to it articles for a new Slovenian national programme. In these articles they called for an abandoning of the communist system and the introduction of a politically pluralist, democratic system, a free market economy with public welfare and an independent Slovenian state. This was over two and a half years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Yugoslavia was still governed by a communist system that rejected these demands.

Among the Slovenes, however, these demands quickly won the sympathies of the broad mass of people, including many Slovenian communists. In May 1989 the leadership a large popular gathering in Ljubljana supported the demands from the Nova revija circle for an independent Slovenian state. Up until spring 1990 the communists attempted to resolve the Slovenian national question in the form of an asymmetric Yugoslav federation, but in September 1989 they nevertheless supported the amendments to Slovenia's constitution involving the sovereignty of the Slovenian nation to dispose of its GDP and to command the armed forces in the territory of the Slovenian republic.

In November 1989 the communist regime in Slovenia, against the will of Belgrade, allowed a free, multiparty life to take root. The new democratic political parties which had started to emerge since the beginning of 1989 united into the Democratic Opposition of Slovenia (DEMOS), headed by Dr Jože Pučnik, a former convict of the communist regime.

In free, democratic elections held in April 1990, this opposition grouping achieved a victory with 54% of the vote, beating the parties that were aimed at perpetuating the former communist system but which had acceded to the democratic, pluralist way.

The Demos coalition quickly formed a government, headed by Lojze Peterle, president of the Slovene Christian Democrats, the party which had won most votes, at 13%, within Demos. But the main force in the new government lay in the members of the Slovene Democratic Alliance, an ideologically pluralist grouping of mainly intellectuals and senior officials: the known communist dissident France Bučar, a professor of law, became president of the Slovenian parliament, Dimitrij Rupel, professor of sociology became foreign minister, and Janez Janša, a victim of YNA persecution in 1988, became defence minister. Igor Bavčar, who headed the committee for the defence of political rights in 1988, became interior minister and Rajko Pirnat, professor of law, became justice minister.

In the elections for president of the presidency of Slovenia the Demos coalition failed. After a second round of voting in May, the direct election for president of the republic was won by the reformed communist Milan Kučan, with 59% of the vote. This indicated that the Slovenian people were leaning towards a peaceful and gradual transition without any sharp upheavals.

The new Demos government quickly changed the political system, but took longer over the social and economic establishment. The Denationalisation Act, which determined the restitution as is or in kind of property taken by the communists, was very difficult to implement, and the opposition did indeed set up practical opposition to it. Within the governing coalition, which was socially, politically and ideologically very diverse, differences arose regarding the act and the progress of privatisation.

Demos maintained unity only in its aim of setting up an independent Slovenian state. The federal bodies and the leaders of all the republics in which the democratisation of political life was sluggish, rejected such an agreement, except for Croatia, which supported Slovenia. In November 1990 the Demos coalition decided to hold a nationwide plebiscite on independence for Slovenia. The plebiscite was held on 23 December, and with a large voter turn-out 88 % of the people voted for an independent Republic of Slovenia.

On 25 June 1991 the Slovenian parliament therefore adopted the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Slovenia, along with certain other related acts. The formal declaration of national independence was made a day later at the largest popular gathering in Slovenia, in Ljubljana's Republic Square.

The Yugoslav government did not agree with the declaration of an independent Slovenia, and attempted to block it through action by the Yugoslav army (YNA). On the very night of Slovenia's declaration of independence the YNA started to occupy the republic's border crossings, with the aim of cutting Slovenia off from the outside world and keeping it in the Yugoslav structure. The resistance to the YNA, which the Slovenian leadership had declared to be an enemy force, was taken up spontaneously and in large numbers by ordinary Slovenes. The ten-day war for Slovenia's independence had started. After two days the Slovenian resistance was already showing results. In order to prevent any exacerbation or extension of the war, the "troika" from the European Community, Jaques Poos, Hans van den Broek and Gianni de Michelis, arrived in Zagreb on 29 June 1991 and attempted to broker a ceasefire. But the military operations continued unabated up until 2 July when the YNA had been defeated in Slovenia. On 7 July the mediation of European diplomats at a meeting of Yugoslav and Slovenian delegations produced an agreement. The Republic of Slovenia retained control over its territory, including its external borders, while the Slovenian forces released their blockade of YNA units, which had to return to barracks, all prisoners of war were released and for three months Slovenia had to refrain from any further independence measures.

During this moratorium independent Slovenia was recognised by Croatia, Lithuania, Georgia, Latvia and Estonia. Since by 8 October no new agreement had been reached between Slovenia and Yugoslavia, the international verdict of Yugoslavia's collapse was passed. Slovenia started making efforts to secure international recognition, something which elicited favourable words from French President Francois Mitterand on 3 October during the visit by President Kučan and foreign minister Rupel.

Before Christmas 1991 the European Community resolved to recognise the independent states of Slovenia and Croatia on 15 January 1992, and this resolution was indeed fulfilled. This was followed by recognition from many other countries, including recognition for Slovenia from the USA in April 1992, and in June Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina were accepted into the United Nations. In May 1993 Slovenia was accepted into the Council of Europe.

Following the declaration of independence Slovenia's internal political scene developed rapidly. Fortunately a consensus was established and the end of 1991 saw adoption of a new, modern liberal democratic constitution founded on the rights of the person and citizen formulated on the model of European enlightenment.

In April 1992, as a result of disagreements in the Demos coalition, Lojze Peterle's Demos government collapsed, and a new government, based on a broad coalition of the Liberal Democrat Party (LDS), the Socialist Party, reformed communists and half of the Demos parties, was formed by the LDS president Janez Drnovšek.

In the elections of December 1992 the LDS secured victory with 23% of the vote, and formed a kind of centrist coalition with one of the centre-right parties, the Christian Democrats, and two centre-left social democratic parties.

Despite its insignificant majority, in this coalition the LDS exercised a clearly leading role and implemented its liberal social and political model of development for Slovenia. In the parliamentary elections of 1996 the LDS again came out the strongest party, but the parties of the conservative right gained 50% of the vote. The LDS succeeded in breaking up the right-wing bloc by bringing into the government the Slovene People's Party, which remained a junior partner in the government and subsequently lost influence.

In 1998 and 1999 the predominant internal political issues in Slovenia were the introduction of a majority voting system, which was opted for at a referendum and upheld by the Supreme Court, and a declaration on the conviction of the undemocratic totalitarian communist system. The ruling regime disregarded both issues. The Government failed to achieve NATO membership.

In the spring of 2000 the coalition Slovene People's Party united with the opposition Slovene Christian Democrats to form the biggest party, which quit the coalition with the LDS and formed a new government with the opposition Social Democratic Party. The new cabinet, headed by Dr Andrej Bajuk, held its mandate only until the elections in the autumn of 2000. The most pressing issue was again the introduction of a majority voting system. The government tried to solve the issue by passing a constitutional act, which, however, failed to introduce any major changes and did not facilitate the adoption of a majority voting system.

In the 2000 elections the LDS, a favourite of all the media, secured victory again. The new coalition, comprised of the LDS, the Slovene People's Party, and the United List of Social Democrats, experienced economic trouble and consequently its popularity declined. This showed clearly in the elections to the European Parliament in the spring of 2004, when the opposition New Slovenia and the Slovenian Democratic Party secured four of the seven seats.

In the spring of 2004 Slovenia joined the EU, which was a joint aim of the coalition and the opposition.

At the parliamentary elections in the autumn of 2004, the three parties of the 'Slovenian spring' claimed victory: the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDP), New Slovenia, and the Slovene People's Party formed a centre-right government, headed by the SDP leader Janez Janša.

Dr Janko Prunk