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Dr Jože Pučnik 32 Years Ago: “Yugoslavia Is No More. Now, It Is About Slovenia!”

The 26th of December marks an event that is considered to be a landmark and unique in the history of the Slovenian nation because we wrote our own judgment at that time. On the 26th of December 1990, the result of the plebiscite on independence was announced, in which Slovenians voted FOR a free and independent Slovenia.

In November 1990, the decision to hold a referendum was taken in Poljče. The delegates of the then-government coalition DEMOS (Democratic Opposition of Slovenia – Demokratična opozicija Slovenije) and some of their professional associates took the historic decision at the consultation there. It was Dr Jože Pučnik who was the driving force behind the decision, which placed us among the historic nations. At the beginning of December, the Plebiscite on the Sovereignty and Independence of the Republic of Slovenia Act was adopted, which, among other things, stipulated that the plebiscite would be held on the 23rd of December and that the Assembly of the Republic should adopt the constitutional and other acts and measures necessary for independence within six months from the date of the announcement of the plebiscite decision. On this basis, the Fundamental Constitutional Charter on the Independence and Sovereignty of the Republic of Slovenia and the Declaration of Independence were adopted on the 25th of June 1991, laying the formal foundations of Slovenian independence.

On the 23rd of December 1990, we decided to secede from the former common state of Yugoslavia and form our own, independent Slovenia. Voters were deciding on the plebiscitary question of “Should the Republic of Slovenia become an independent and sovereign state?” 1,289,369, or 88.5 percent of all eligible voters, voted in favour of an independent Slovenia, while 57,800, or 4 percent, voted against it, and 12,412, or 0.9 percent of the ballots, were invalid. 99,354 voters did not participate in the plebiscite.

We showed great unity in expressing our desire for independence. A unity that has never been witnessed before in the history of the Slovenian nation. We had thus decided to follow the path of independence and had realised our long-held dream. The results of the plebiscite were announced shortly after 10 p.m., when the father of the Slovenian Spring, Dr Jože Pučnik, said the famous phrase: “Yugoslavia is no more. Now, it is about Slovenia.”

Although Slovenians as a nation were united at the time, the same cannot be said of politics. Namely, on the 9th of November 1990, the President of the DEMOS party, Pučnik, was treated very unfairly when he went from a meeting of the DEMOS parliamentary club in Poljče to some rally and announced that we Slovenians would go to a plebiscite before Christmas. The next day, Milan Kučan, the then-President of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia, commented on Pučnik’s announcement, saying: “Who is Pučnik to send us to a plebiscite? DEMOS decided to hold a plebiscite because there was no political unity for independence.”

Even before the elections, DEMOS had been working for unity within the framework of the adoption of the Slovenian Constitution. However, as a two-thirds majority was required for its adoption, their attempt failed. There were those for whom Slovenian independence had never been the preferred option and who, therefore, did not want to contribute the necessary votes. For this reason, DEMOS decided to hold a plebiscite on independence, and then a vote for the constitution. Hence the motive for the unfair treatment of Dr Pučnik, who announced this decision. When the results of the polls showed that Slovenians were overwhelmingly in favour of the idea of a plebiscite, DEMOS, after difficult negotiations, managed to achieve a two-thirds consensus for the adoption of the plebiscite law, in which the Slovenian nation clearly expressed its will.

It was during this time that the Slovenian Spring blossomed in all its glory. In December 1990, we realised the aspirations of our ancestors to have our own country, which lasted for millennia, so we should be extremely proud of this historic moment.

Sara Kovač

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