The first Slovene government had 27 ministers. Today there are fourteen. (source)
On Sunday, April 8th Slovenia “celebrated” 17th anniversary of the first democratic elections in it’s modern history. Thankfully there was no real celebration – but you can put that down to the fact that most people celebrated Easter anyhow.
The elections were “general” – meaning that voters chose both the members of the Parliament as well as members of the Presidency. At the time Slovenia had a radically different political system in place. The Parliament (officially: The Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia) was a three chamber body which consisted of the Chamber of Municipalities, Chamber of Work(ers) and Societal-Political Chamber (the translation is a bit awkward, I know). The latter was deemed the most important, although the three chambers were equal in power.
There were numerous parties running in the elections, some were trully exoctic, such as Party of Beer Lovers, Society of Mushroom Pickers and even a gay club. As everyone expected, the oppositon DEMOS coalition won, but it got only 54 percent of the vote in stark contrast with other countries where socialism collapsed and where the opposition basically wiped out the rulling Communist party. Even more – on a party by party count, the League of Communists got the most votes. Surprises did not stop there, though.
An agreement was reached within DEMOS, the party wchih got the most votes within the coalition would name the Prime Minister and everyone thought the victory of Slovene Democratic Union was a foregone conclusion. Everyone but the voters, that its, who gave the most votes within the DEMOS coalition to Christian-Democratic Party, thus making a little known geographer Lojze Peterle the president of the first Slovene democraticly elected government (which at the time went by the name of Executive Council)
At the time Slovenia had a collective presidency, which consisted of the President and of four members, each of whom was equally empowered to run the presidency in case of President’s absence. The main contenders for the President of the Presidency were Milan Kučan, who had just resigned as the President of the League of Communists and the late Jože Pučnik, the leader of DEMOS.
Kučan won after the second round of elections, delivering a major overall blow to the opposition, which based it’s campaign mostly on anti-communism.
Thus the political field was divided between left- and right-wing options. It is generally agreed that the voters (knowingly or otherwise) balanced the field by giving actual power to the right-wing opposition, but accepting the positive role of the League of Communists, which had brought about changes in the constitution just a year before, enabling a relatively smooth transition from a single-party to a multi-party system, and – most of all – the voters recognized the fact that the “old structures” were willing to relinquish the power, thus being radically different from the likes of Ceausescu
In 1990 the Organisation of Socialist Youth, which was the main force of change within the socialist system, got a handsome amount of votes. This party was then renamed to Liberal Democrats and went on to become Slovenia’s most powerful party for more than a decade, from 1992 to 2004.
The Assembly, the Executive Council and the Presidency were primarily charged with holding a referendum on independece, declaring and sustaining the independence (an armed conflict was always considered a likely option), securing international recognition and passing a new constitiution, which established a proper parlimamentary democracy.
In retrospect, the mandate was fulfilled on all counts. The fact that it was all achieved in little more than two years is frankly astonishing, but at the time noone had the time to stop and think about it, because events were literally overtaking one another. This famous chapter of Slovene history started unfolding after DEMOS dissolved due to internal bickering (as their primary goal – independence – was achieved), Lojze Peterle was replaced by Janez Drnovšek as PM, a new Constitution was passed and another general elections were held, this time to the office of The President of the Republic, and to the National Assembly and the National Council. I covered the relations between the three in more detail here.
From today’s perspective, those were the glory days, when men were real men, women were real women, history was in abundance and the air had a smell of good, glorious and important things. In short: Slovenia’s democratic defloration ended with a multiple orgasm. Was that really as good as it gets?
10 thoughts on “Democracy, 17 years after defloration”
Well, if your recent history lesson is anything to go by, I’d say some interesting (in one way or another) times are to follow, mhehe. I’m just lucky my laptop wasn’t stolen when I was in LJ last week, I think. 😉
Part of Beer Lovers? You were a card carrying member, weren’t you? 😛
Actually no, since it was disbanded before I was old enough to vote – when, by the way, I also started drinking aclochol (you do the math here :))
High time you reinstated that party, then. Guiness, Kasteelbier, Duvel, Union and Lasko… You’ve got all you need right there to have party statutes… 😀
But was there a party for gay beer-loving mushroom pickers? Or maybe a chicken-in-every-pot party?
I don’t think it was… There was a Nacionalna stranka dela, though, which bore a striking resemblance to NSDAP, and not just in name. It’s only president was Sašo Pap, who (if my information is correct) ended up as a chief IT engineer at the Minsitry of Agriculture…
My history teacher in the primary school used to tell us (ilegally, of course, after all, this was the 80ies) about the political parties we are going to have one day. And democracy. And if I remember correctly, I didn’t really understand what the difference would be 😳
What about now?… Do you….. Punk? (sorry, couldn’t resist myself) 😉
Now? It’s all God Shave The Queen of course 🙂
I took some time to learn about Germany and I have to admit this was the point I finally understood the most important structures of a democratic state and their functions and forms. Now, this would be a big shame, but I have two things to offer as a way of explanation:
I started studying in 1991. This means I have done all the possible courses of socialist political education. Of course, the official history we had to learn by heart did not say anything about the beauty of the political parties.
I was (we were?) quite tired of having to memorise all those important expressions describing our country and its political system. I also grew suspicious of a country that requires its pupils to praise it so verbosely, pathetically all the time. Why the obligation to SPEAK in an appropriately caring way about something you could simply have positive FEELINGS for?
It makes you tired.
Only after I had decided to learn about some important aspects of a democracy did I find out it is indeed interesting. Very much so.
Ever since, I am also interested in Slovenia (which is why I am grateful for the stuff you write here, BTW).
And in my opinion, 3 new subjects should be introduced in schools: parenting, environment and democracy…
Wow, you just reminded me of something… A definition of democracy… Will post on it tommorow…
As for the subjects – I couldn’t agree more. Me bows…
Hi mate. I am still very noob at blog and all aspects around this field. There are lods of terms I still don’t understand. I’m not pretty sure I can blogging half decent to yours. I am gonna browse the entire site perhaps I can grasp your blogging style a little.
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