TEN YEARS OF FIRST DIRECT AND MULTIPARTY ELECTIONS IN SLOVENIA

April, 2000

 


Endeavours to Strengthen Democracy

 

In the second half of the eighties Slovenia quickly developed a civil society. Slogans of real democracy, political pluralism and free elections were joined by the demand for an independent Slovenia. It was no longer possible to stop the democratic process in Slovenia. This process was developed in parallel by the Slovene non-party opposition and the reform-oriented League of Communists of Slovenia. The origins of the first parties - the Farmers' Party, the Slovene Democratic Party, etc. - go back to that period as well.

 

The new democratic elections in Slovenia have been made possible by the amendments to the Constitution of Slovenia adopted and declared by the Slovenian Parliament at the end of September 1989. There was not much time for the preparation of the new legislation concerning the election. The Slovene Assembly had appointed a special working group which drafted five bills which the Assembly enacted at the end of December: the law on election into the assembly, the law on electoral districts, the law on the election and recall of the president and members of the presidency of Slovenia, the law on political associations and electoral record-keeping.

 

A non-party opposition was already formed in Slovenia; the Democratic Opposition of Slovenia (hereafter called DEMOS) and other parties (The Socialist Party, etc) were finally established on the basis of the electoral law passed on 27 December 1989.

In 1990, the final creation of DEMOS began, a coalition of the most important new parties : Slovene Democratic Union, Social Democratic Union of Slovenia, Slovene Christian Democrats, Slovene Farmers Association and the Green of Slovenia. At political meetings, DEMOS presented a declaration on Slovene self- determination in which, among other things, they committed themselves to a plebiscite.

 

In 1990, the proportional electoral system was only in force for electing 80 delegates of the Socio-political Chamber, one of the three chambers of the Assembly (Slovenia was still a part of the former Yugoslavia then and could not violate the federal Constitution). The most interesting part of the elections was the election of delegates to the Socio-political chamber of the parliament that showed the political structure of Slovenia and was organised according to the system of proportional representation.

 

The majority electoral system was used to elect, among several candidates, the delegates to the chambers of the associated labour (80 seats), the chambers of local communities at the level of the communal parliaments, to the chamber of communes (80 seats).

 

 

Voters' support

 

The proposed candidates needed a certain minimal support of the voters in order to be nominated in their respective constituencies. For example: for the Socio- political chamber of the Parliament a candidate needed at least 200 votes. The proposed candidate for the President of the Presidency of the Republic required at least 5,000 votes of support in the constituency, which is in this case the entire electoral body on Slovenia.

 

According to the existing legislation, candidates could be proposed also by political organisations or political parties. Provided a party had a minimum membership of 5,000, it could propose a candidate for the President of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia, and with a minimum membership of 2,500 a candidate for the members of the Presidency of Slovenia. Candidates for these offices could be put forward also by a coalition. This was done by DEMOS. There was also a possibility of independent candidacy with a submission of a certain number of signatures to the electoral committees.

 

 

Elections

 

So, on 8 April 1990 the first post-war direct, multiparty elections took place. On that day Slovenes voted the President of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia (four candidates), the four members of the Presidency (twelve candidates of several parties and of the united opposition), the delegates to the Socio-political chamber of the Parliament (fourteen parties proposed their candidates) and the delegates of the Chamber of communes of the Parliament. The elections for the delegates to the Chambers of associated labour took place on April 12 1990.

 

The most interesting part of the elections besides the election of the President were the elections for the Socio-political Chamber of Slovenia. It was attended by 1.241 mio voters, and there were 1.128 mio valid ballots out of the total number of 1.238 mio ballots cast.

 

Among the parties competing for the seats in the Socio-political Chamber of Slovenia at the election on 8 April, ZKS-Party for Democratic Reforms polled 17.28% of the votes; it is followed by the ZSMS - Liberal Party (14.49%), the third are Slovene Christian Democrats (12.98%), the fourth Slovene Farmers' Union - SKZ (12.55%); the fifth Slovene Democratic Party -SDZ (9.51%); the sixth Greens of Slovenia (8.84%); the seventh Social-Democratic Union of Slovenia (7.39%); the eight SZDL - Socialist Party of Slovenia (5.37%); and ninth Slovenian Craftsmen's Party (3.54%). All other parties and lists captured less than 2.5% of votes and are according to the law therefore not allowed a seat in the Socio-political Chamber.

 

 

Distribution of seats in the Socio-political Chamber

 

The democratic elections for the Slovene Parliament in April 1990 brought a 55% victory for the DEMOS coalition while the remaining votes went to the three parties which were considered the heirs of the previous system even though they had also declared themselves in favour of a market economy and political democracy (the League of Communists of Slovenia received 17%; the Socialist Youth Party that on the eve of the elections adopted the name Liberal Democratic Party, 14%; and the Socialist Party established from the previous Socialist Union, 5,5%).

 

There were 80 seats in the Socio-political Chamber. DEMOS, the pre-electoral coalition of seven parties, obtained the absolute majority, i.e. 47 seats, ZKS-PDR won 14 seats, ZSMS-LP 12, and SZDL-SA 5 seats, while two seats in the Socio- political Chamber are reserved for the representatives of both national minorities in Slovenia (Italian and Hungarian).

 

Taken all in all DEMOS obtained 126 of 240 seats in the Parliament. The opposition was made up of the Party of Democratic Renewal (former Communist), Liberal Democratic Party, Socialist Party of Slovenia - and independent delegates.

 

The DEMOS government was formed by Lojze Peterle, the president of the strongest coalition party, the Slovene Christian Democrats. The most important ministries entrusted with organizing Slovenia's independence were given to the members of the Slovene Democratic Party: Dr Dimitrij Rupel (Foreign Minister), Janez Janša (Defence), and Igor Bavčar (Internal Affairs).

 

 

The New Government

 

The new Slovene government was elected on the joint session of all the three chambers on 16 May 1990.

 

Milan Kučan was elected President of the Republic, and Lojze Peterle, president of the Slovene Christian Democrats, became Prime Minister.

 

On May 9, 1990 new leadership was elected on the joint session of all the three chambers of the Assembly. Dr France Bučar (SDZ) was elected president.

 

From 1.489.8220 voters 1.146.627 (76.9%) took part in the elections for the president of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia. In the second round Milan Kučan (ZKS-SDP) was elected with 58,6% of votes and the anti-candidate Jože Pučnik (DEMOS) got 41,4% of votes.

 

By late spring of 1990, all the parties in the new democratically-constituted Slovene government had agreed on a platform of Slovene national and governmental independence within a Yugoslav confederation and were resolved to settle Slovenia's relationship to this union in a peaceful and democratic way by means of mutual agreement as soon as possible. However, neither the central government nor the Presidency of Yugoslavia nor the Federal Assembly were prepared to talk with Slovenia.

The elections in 1990 were in fact a transitional phase that led to the real democratic elections on December 6 1992 - already in the independent Slovenia.