Slovenia

Background

Slovenian history at a glance

After the collapse of the Habsburg rule, Slovenia, Serbia and Croatia established the State of Slovenes in October 1918, renamed into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (December 1918) and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1929). The new kingdom initially took form as a parliamentary democratic state. However, during the following years, democracy tumbled owing to numerous political crisis that were triggered, in particular, by Serbian efforts to create a centralized state led from Serbia and growing dissatisfaction among the Croats. The crisis culminated in 1928 when a Montenegrin deputy shot down five and killed two parliamentarians in the assembly. In response to these developments, King Alexander abolished the Constitution, prorogued the parliament and introduced a personal dictatorship in January 1929. In 1934, the king was assassinated in Marseille by an activist of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), and since the king's eldest son was still a minor, a regency council of three, specified in Alexander's will, ruled the country. In the following years, internal tensions continued to increase between Serbs and Croats while seeking to establish an ethnic federal subdivision of the country.

In March 1941, the regency council signed a pact with the Axis powers that lead to massive demonstrations and eventually to a military coup d'état in which the now 18-year old King Peter II seized power. In April the same year, the Axis powers invaded and conquered the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the royal family went into exile. While the Western powers recognized King Peter II as the formal ruler of the liberated territories, effective powers changed during the course of the war in favour of Tito's Communist Partisans. As the German troops were driven out and the war came to an end in 1945, the kingdom was formally restored. However, in December 1945, the communist authorities proclaimed the state of the Federative People's Republic of Yugoslavia (renamed the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, SFRY, in 1963) and the kingdom ceased to exist. The "new" Yugoslavia comprised six constituent republics (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia) and two autonomous provinces (Vojvodina and Kosovo). Within the SFRY, each republic and province had a constitution, a supreme court, a parliament, a president and a prime minister. At federal levels were a federal parliament, a federal government and, at the top, the president of Yugoslavia, Josip Tito.

Following the death of Tito in 1980, liberal and democratic as well as nationalist and separatist sentiments were growing in Slovenia. In the spring of 1990, Slovenia held free elections as the first of the Yugoslav republics and on June 25 1991, independence was declared. A 10-day war ensued in which the newly established Slovenian army stiffly resisted the Yugoslav forces in a nearly bloodless war where only 67 people were killed.

Politics in the new era

Since the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia has instituted a stable multi-party democratic political system. Within the republic, power is shared between a directly elected president, a prime minister, and a bicameral legislature (Parliament).

The 1990 elections resulted in the victory of the Democratic Opposition of Slovenia (DEMOS), which subsequently formed a government under Lojze Peterle, the leader of the Slovenian Christian Democrats (SKD). The leader of the Party of Democratic Reform (SDP), Milan Kučan (an opponent of Milošević), was elected president.

Following a parliamentary motion of ‘no confidence’ in April 1992 the government resigned and Peterle was replaced by Dr Janez Drnovšek, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP, restyled as the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia; LDS in 1994). From 1992, LDS managed to stay in government more or less continuously until 2004.

The December 1992 elections led to the formation of a five-party coalition led by Drnovšek. In spite of considerable instability within the coalition, parliamentary elections were again held on 10 November 1996 as scheduled.  The 1996 elections failed to produce a majority victory and a coalition agreement was finally secured in late February 1997 between the ruling LDS and, the Slovenian People’s Party (SLS), and the Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia (DeSUS). In the presidential election held the same year, Kučan won a second term in office. The governing coalition collapsed in July 2000 as a result of internal divisions within SLS over the approval of constitutional amendments providing for the introduction of a system of proportional representation.

A new government, headed by Drnovšek, was endorsed by the legislature at the end of November. The new coalition included the LDS, the United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD), the SLS and DeSUS. As Kučan was prohibited, under the terms of the constitution, from seeking election for a third term, the presidential election in 2002 was won by Drnovšek. Anton Rop, also a member of the LDS and hitherto minister of finance, was nominated to replace Drnovšek as prime minister. 

In a surprise upset, the centre-right Slovenian Democrats (SDS) won the October 2004 elections, defeating the ruling LDS who had been in power for most of the previous 12 years. The leader of the SDS, Janez Janša, was appointed prime minister on November 9. Lengthy inter-party negotiations finally led to the SDP forming a coalition agreement with the SLS, the New Slovenia – Christian People's Party (NSi) and DeSUS. In March 2004 Slovenia was officially admitted to NATO, together with Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia. Slovenia’s accession to the EU followed on May 1. Slovenia changed its currency to the Euro on January 1, 2007.

In the runoff round of the 2007 presidential elections final results left Dr Türk winning a landslide victory despite him only narrowly securing the second-place finish in the first round of voting.  The following year's National Assembly election was won by the Social Democrats (former ZLSD) while the SDS came in second. Borut Pahor, the SD party leader, formed government and assumed the prime minister position.

Sources:

Recent History (Slovenia), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. 

Alvarez-Rivera, Manuel. "Slovenia's 2007 Presidential Election " in Global Economy Matters.