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Thirty-One Years Ago, the First Multi-Party Elections After the Second World War Took Place in Slovenia, At Which the Demos Coalition Won

On Palm Sunday, the 8th of April 1990, the first multi-party elections after the Second World War took place in Slovenia, at which the Democratic Opposition of Slovenia (in Slovenian: Demokratična opozicija Slovenije – Demos) won. Elections that were held 31 years ago were free and multi-party, but the SDS party believes that they were not fair. The parties that emerged from the previous systems thus had a greater advantage in the elections. Thus, inequality between the old and newly formed political organisations was clearly shown in the elections to the assembly of the united part of the then-parliament, where Demos got the worst results, which Lovro Šturm, Ph.D., also noted in one of his analyses of the first elections. 

On Palm Sunday, the 8th of April 1990, the first multi-party elections took place, and after many years of a one-party system, the people of the Republic of Slovenia were able to vote for the first time and even vote for more than just one party, including parties that were not from the communist one-party regime. The legal basis for this was made possible by the adoption of amendments to the constitution in December 1989, by which the then-Republican Assembly legalised the political parties, determined the procedures for electing the president and members of the presidency, and set the electoral threshold for entry into the parliament at 2.5 percent. The SDS party warns that despite the democratic settings that were being formed under the old government, a purely democratic system was impossible to introduce. “Through the electoral legislation, the previous socio-political organisations have secured a certain advantage, which is especially true for the candidacy for the United Assembly,” they explained.

And just like today, the media space was also unbalanced, which put the Demos party in an even worse position, especially compared to the parties that came from the former regime. It should also be noted, as Lovro Šturm, ph.D., pointed out, that “inequality between the then-political organisations and the new ones was already woven into the law at the time.” He was, of course, referring to the political organisations of that time – the League of Communists of Slovenia, The Association of the Trade Unions, the Socialist Union of Working People, and the Union of Socialist Youth of Slovenia, which were able to operate everywhere, in all organisations, in state administrations, public services, labour organisations and elsewhere, while the new parties were not allowed all that.

The elections to the then-240-member three-chamber assembly were held in several parts: on the 8th of April 1990, the voters elected 80 delegates from the socio-political assembly and 80 delegates from the municipal assembly, and on the 12th of April, they selected another 80 delegates from the united assembly. Voter turnout was, from today’s perspective, very high, with 83.5 eligible voters showing up at the polls. The winner of the election was the newly formed coalition of the democratic opposition parties – Demos, under the leadership of Jože Pučnik, Ph.D., which won 47 out of the 80 seats in the socio-political assembly and 51 out of the 80 seats in the municipal assembly, however, in the united assembly, Demos received the worst results, as it only won 29 out of the 80 seats.

In the elections to the united assembly, where Demos got the worst result, inequality between the old and newly formed political organisations became apparent, which Šturm also pointed out in his analysis of the first elections. However, we also need to mention at least two other segments, namely: due to the old composition of the electoral bodies and some confusion with a large number of parties, a huge number of ballots was invalid: “Demos also did not have control over all of the polling stations, so we can conclude that the elections were democratic, compared to the previous, one-party elections, but they were by no means fair,” they pointed out. The SKD party received the most votes within the democratic coalition, thus gaining the right to Peterle’s mandate.

Independence brought democracy, but not a real break with the previous system
The elections that happened 31 years ago brought victory to the democratic coalition Demos, which in turn meant a break with the then-one-party dictatorship and the transition to a multi-party system and democracy. “After so many years of an independent state, we can see that the final break with the former system did not actually happen then, as the party recruited its people into all parts of political, administrative and social life, which is still obvious today,” they explained.

After so many years of the parties from the left-wing political option being in power, they cannot come to terms with the fact that another political option is now in power. Moreover, with the help of the media that favours them, they are creating hysteria, as If the world will collapse if a party from the opposite, right-wing political pole is in power for a year or two. “What is especially concerning is that they are doing this during the covid-19 epidemic, which has been going on for a good year and which the whole world is struggling with. Instead of coming together and fighting the invisible enemy together, their only interest is to come back to power,” the SDS party criticised the left-wing’s approach, which should be state-building, like that of the independence activists from 31 years ago.

Sara Rančigaj

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