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SDS party proposes a Law on State Symbols

The SDS parliamentary group submitted a proposal for the Act on National Symbols to the parliamentary procedure, with which we want, among other things, to encourage citizens to display the flag more often and at the same time prohibit the public glorification of all symbols of totalitarian regimes.

The Act on the Coat of Arms, Flag, and Anthem of the Republic of Slovenia and on the Slovenian National Flag was adopted in 1994. In the following years, several more regulations followed, the most important of which are the Regulation on the Use of the Flag and Anthem of the European Union in the Republic of Slovenia and the Regulation on Displaying the Flag of the Republic of Slovenia in educational institutions. During these twenty years, quite a few concerns have been expressed about Slovenian national symbols, especially at professional levels, regarding their content, changes, and use.

In this space of ours, history has created some symbolic points in its flow of time, from which our historical memory draws heavily. The Carantania coat of arms and the Carantania cover, the Prince’s Stone from Gosposvetsko polje, the Freising manuscripts, the coats of arms of the Slovenian lands, especially the Carniola region, the powerful dynasty of the Counts of Celje, the linden leaf, the highest mountain of our land, Triglav, and the Slovenian three-coloured national flag are the sources from which attempts were made to derive also when looking for the most appropriate solutions for official national symbols, such as the coat of arms, flag, and anthem of the Republic of Slovenia.

In practice, it turned out that the police and not the market inspection often encounter problems with suspensions, which is why it would make sense to transfer the majority of supervision over the provisions of the new law to the police themselves. The fact that the penalties for violating the law are still set in Slovenian tolars and not adjusted for inflation is also a fact that does not bring pride to the law with such an important content, which dictates an update.

The Slovenian national flag was established on June 24th, 1991, by the then Slovenian Assembly, the predecessor of today’s National Assembly, with the adoption of Amendment C (100) to the 1974 Constitution, replacing the old republican flag with it shortly before Slovenian independence.

The fact that more than a quarter of a century has passed since the original law additionally indicates that the legislation and the system of state administration, which were in force at the time of the adoption of the Act on the Coat of Arms, Flag, and Anthem of the Republic of Slovenia, have changed significantly, which dictates the terminology update and update regarding reference to institutions and institutes valid today.

It is therefore absolutely necessary to update the law in a systemic sense. At the same time, the past quarter of a century has shown a large number of problems with the use of state symbols, which were not solved on the spot, but accumulated, as the law did not undergo a single change, even though heraldic, flag studies, and musicology professions often warned of problems in the implementation and interpretation of the law.

According to the experience of the flag studies profession, the majority of citizens understand the Law on the Coat of Arms, Flag, and Anthem of the Republic of Slovenia as meaning that the flag of the Republic of Slovenia is allowed to be flown only on national holidays, which indicates the need for a clearer statement of the principle of free hanging of the flag, which would certainly help to raise the flag more often.

For many years, the profession of flag studies has been warning that the hanging of the flag in such a way that the flag is attached to the pole with its longer side (i.e. in vertical mode) is prohibited under the current legislation, but in practice, despite the ban, it is still widely practiced in such a way that the coat of arms is in a recumbent position, which in flag studies and heraldry means the surrender or death of the holder of the flag, as a result of which there is an urgent need to change the law in such a way that the coat of arms is placed upright when displayed vertically.

The Slovenian national flag, which is the basis of the Slovenian national flag, is quite neglected in the Act on the Coat of Arms, Flag, and Anthem of the Republic of Slovenia, and the majority of citizens do not recognise it and do not display it, which is why it is absolutely necessary to include it in the hierarchy of other flags.

Also, problems with the order in which the flags are displayed are a constant at all types of events, which makes it necessary to define the hierarchy of all possible symbols much more clearly and to determine the methods of displaying the flags in a clear way (also with the help of graphic appendices).

Regarding the coat of arms, it is comparatively legal that the coat of arms is used solely and exclusively to identify the country as such, but not its citizens, which is why it is necessary to limit the right to use the coat of arms to the state bodies of the Republic of Slovenia, other entities under public law whose founder is the Republic Slovenia, and their members.

Zdravljica was approved as the Slovenian national anthem by the former Republic Assembly on March 29th, 1990, i.e., before independence, and almost a year earlier, on September 27th, 1989, in the XII. amendment to the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia in the Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, the following provision was written: The anthem of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia is “Zdravljica”. Prešeren’s Zdravljica was published for the first time in Kmetijske in rokodelske Novice (Farmer’s and artisan’s news) in 1848.

Regarding the anthem, the musicological profession has repeatedly emphasised that the anthem is essentially a composition that can also be performed purely instrumentally, which means that the sheet music and the composer always come first, and the poet who wrote the lyrics which is sung with a vocal performance comes second. Because of the above, it is necessary to change the definition of the anthem and to mention its composer, Stanko Premrl. The sheet music found in the existing appendix is incorrect in places and deviates arbitrarily and without good reason from Premrl’s original, as a result of which it is only necessary to correct this, which the musicological profession has been pointing out for many years.

Boris Pahor, distinguished academician, Slovenian poet and writer and fighter for the rights of Slovenians, in 2013 on the centenary of his birth recipient of the Citizen of Europe Award, anti-fascist, pointed out for a long time the shortcomings of the current national anthem, as defined in the current law from 1994. Namely, the law defines only the seventh stanza of Zdravljica as an anthem, which has a distinctly internationalist colour. Boris Pahor warned that such a performance of the anthem is also in clear contradiction with the values followed by the poet France Prešeren when writing Zdravljica, especially against the value of patriotism.

Boris Pahor also repeatedly warned that in reality, only the performance of Zdravljica as a national anthem, or as the only permissible minimum, at least in the scope of the second and seventh stanzas (and in the sequence determined by the poet, and in no way less or otherwise), from the point of view of the value of patriotism, will became comparable to foreign anthems. According to the warnings of this great fighter for the rights of Slovenes and fundamental human rights, this is definitely not the case with the current internationalist version.

There is a consensus in Slovenian politics that the value of patriotism is an extremely important value. Thus, the importance of the value of patriotism was emphasised in various acts and messages by the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia and all previous presidents of the country of Slovenia, as well as by Slovenian governments in various mandates and the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia.

In the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), we place the value of patriotism among the fundamental values of our programme. But the consensus on the importance of the value of patriotism goes beyond the mere political framework, as the importance of this value is also emphasised by many civil society organisations.

The current law is clearly inconsistent with the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia. Indeed, in its sixth article, the Constitution unequivocally defines the entire Zdravljica as the national anthem (the third paragraph of Article 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia): “The national anthem of Slovenia is Zdravljica.”

In accordance with the constitution, the law in our legal system can only determine permissible ways of implementing a constitutional provision. However, the law now does not define Zdravljica as an anthem at all. As the anthem of the Republic of Slovenia, the law defines exclusively the seventh stanza of this song. If the intention of the legislator was to enable an exception, so that in individual cases there would be no complications in the performance of the entire constitutionally defined anthem – Zdravljica – due to its length, he could have only determined permissible exceptions, but not that he set the exception as the only rule and thus in essentially legally negated the constitutional provision.

The currently valid law from 1994 also has a shortcoming, as the criminal provisions still define penalties in tolars, i.e., in a currency that is no longer in circulation. In SDS, we believe that it is necessary, mainly due to various events and circumstances, to change and define the criminal provisions that define the use of the coat of arms, the flag, or the Slovenian national flag by a legal entity, a responsible person of a legal entity, a private individual, and a physical person in form or content, which is in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia or this Act.

In addition, due to the difficult experiences of Slovenians with all totalitarian regimes (Nazism, Fascism, and Communism), it is necessary to define that any public expression of ideas through or with the help of totalitarian symbols is strictly prohibited and must be strictly sanctioned, as it is a marked action contrary to fundamental postulates of the state of the Republic of Slovenia and its official symbols. The bill prohibits the public glorification of all totalitarian regimes, their leaders, and state symbols.

The currently valid legislation does not stipulate that the Slovenian national flag should be displayed in the capital in a visible place. The hanging of local community flags is regulated in local community regulations. Ljubljana has a dual role, because in addition to the status of a city municipality, it also has the status of the capital of the Republic of Slovenia, so there is no real reason why, in addition to the flags of the local community, the flags of the Republic of Slovenia should not be flown in all places.

In the Slovenian Democratic Party, we hope that the ruling coalition will also recognise the importance of national symbols and, if for no other reason, will adopt the proposed law out of love for our homeland.

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