Government Public Relations and Media Office
Government Public Relations and Media Office

Slovenia - 10 Years of Independence
Path to Independence
Slovene Contribution to World Civilisation
The Celebration

From the Plebiscite to the Declaration of Independence
War for Slovenia
Independence Documents
Recalling Memories
26 June 1991 - Ljubljana, the Square of the Republic


The independent state of the Republic of Slovenia was created on 25 June 1991 out of the federal republic of Slovenia, which was previously a part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The country of Slovenia emerged in the first half of the 19th century as a term to denote the territory in the southern area of the Austrian dominions inhabited by a Slovene-speaking population. Up until 1918 under the Austrians no political territory with such a name had been formed, but the concept of Slovenia had nevertheless acquired a socially tangible and potentially even political dimension. After the First World War the majority of Slovenia's territory came under the Yugoslav state, in which the Slovene people lived their own autonomous cultural life. After the Second World War the communist federal Yugoslav state gained further slices of Slovene ethnic territory from Italy, and the Slovene republic thereby incorporated a greater part of the actual Slovene ethnic lands, complete with an opening to the Adriatic Sea at Koper.

Within federal Yugoslavia, the Slovene nation made good progress both economically and culturally, and consolidated its national existence despite the communist regime which ruled Yugoslavia after the Second World War.

In the acute crisis facing the Yugoslav communist system from the middle of the 1980's, a crisis that was also manifested in interethnic relations, it became clear that the Yugoslav communists, including those of Slovenia, were not able to offer any new paths for the continued development of the multi-ethnic Yugoslav state community. It became clear that the social, economic, cultural and political structure of the Slovene nation was not compatible with the structures of the other Yugoslav nations.

"Slovenian Spring"

It was thus that in the spring of 1987 a group of intellectuals with anti-communist leanings appeared, centring themselves around the Nova revija magazine and contributing to it articles for a new Slovene national programme. In these articles they called for an abandoning of the communist system and the introduction of a politically pluralist, democratic system, a free market economy with public welfare and an independent Slovene state. This was over two and a half years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Yugoslavia was still governed by a communist system that rejected these demands.

Among the Slovenes, however, these demands quickly won the sympathies of the broad mass of people, including many Slovene communists. In the spring of 1989 Slovenia's communist leadership recognised this new trend in the mood of the people, and began siding with it, particularly during the heightened inter-ethnic tensions in Kosovo. In May 1989 the leadership permitted a large popular gathering in Ljubljana in support of the demands from the Nova revija circle for an independent Slovene state. Up until spring 1990 the communists attempted to resolve the Slovene national question in the form of an asymmetric Yugoslav federation, but in September 1989 they nevertheless supported the amendments to Slovenia's constitution involving the sovereignty of the Slovene nation to dispose of its GDP and to command the armed forces in the territory of the Slovene republic.

In November 1989 the communist regime in Slovenia, against the will of Belgrade, allowed a free, multiparty life to take root. The new democratic political parties which had started to emerge since the beginning of 1989 - the Democratic Alliance of Slovenia, the Social Democrat Alliance of Slovenia, the Slovene Christian Democrats, the Farmers' Alliance and the Greens of Slovenia - united into the Democratic Opposition of Slovenia (DEMOS).

First Democratic Elections in 1990 won by DEMOS

In free, democratic elections held in April 1990, this opposition grouping achieved a victory with 54% of the vote, beating the parties that were aimed at perpetuating the former communist system but which had acceded to the democratic, pluralist way. These were the League of Communists of Slovenia - the Party of Democratic Renewal, which in January 1990 resigned from the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, and which maintained many of its higher ranking members, particularly in leading economic and political positions, meanwhile winning more than all of the other parties with 17%; the former League of Socialist Youth, renamed the Liberal Party, which won 15%; and the civil servant and officialdom class of the former Socialist League, renamed the Socialist Party, which won 5%.

The Demos coalition quickly formed a government, headed by Lojze Peterle, president of the Slovene Christian Democrats, the party which had won most votes, at 13%, within Demos. But the main force in the new government lay in the members of the Slovene Democratic Alliance, an ideologically pluralist grouping of mainly intellectuals and senior officials: the known communist dissident France Bucar, a professor of law, became president of the Slovene parliament, Dimitrij Rupel, professor of sociology became foreign minister, and Janez Jansa, a victim of YNA persecution in 1988, became defence minister. Igor Bavcar, who headed the committee for the defence of political rights in 1988, became interior minister and Rajko Pirnat, professor of law, became justice minister.

In the elections for president of the presidency of Slovenia the Demos coalition failed to win with their candidate Joze Pucnik, who was president of the Social Democrat Party, and a dissident under the communists who was forced to live in exile for a long time. After a second round of voting in May, the direct election for president of the republic was won by the reformed communist Milan Kucan, with 59% of the vote. This indicated that the Slovene people were leaning towards a peaceful and gradual transition without any sharp upheavals.

The new Demos government quickly changed the political system, but took longer over the social and economic establishment. The Denationalisation Act, which determined the restitution as is or in kind of property taken by the communists, was very difficult to implement, and the opposition did indeed set up practical opposition to it. Within the governing coalition, which was socially, politically and ideologically very diverse, differences arose regarding the act and the progress of privatisation. Owing to ideological differences between the Catholics and liberals, there was an impasse over the adoption of the constitution.


Demos maintained unity only in its aim of setting up an independent Slovene state. From the summer of 1990 it offered to the federal Yugoslav government and the other republics the prospect of agreement on a transformation of the Yugoslav federation into a confederation. The federal bodies and the leaders of all the republics in which the democratisation of political life was sluggish, rejected such an agreement, except for Croatia, which supported Slovenia. In November 1990 the Demos coalition decided to hold a nationwide plebiscite on independence for Slovenia. The plebiscite was held on 23 December, and with a large voter turn-out 88,2% of the people voted for an independent Republic of Slovenia. This result testified to the fact that independence for Slovenia was also supported by many non-Slovene inhabitants of the republic whom independent Slovenia then granted citizenship.

In the spring of 1991 Slovenia's political leadership was still seeking a confederation agreement for the Yugoslav republics, but without success. On 25 June 1991 the Slovene parliament therefore adopted the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Slovenia, along with certain other related acts. The formal declaration of national independence was made a day later at the largest popular gathering in Slovenia, in Ljubljana's Republic Square.

Declaration of Independence and the War for Slovenia

The Yugoslav government did not agree with the declaration of an independent Slovenia, and attempted to block it through action by the Yugoslav army (YNA). On the very night of Slovenia's declaration of independence the YNA started to occupy the republic's border crossings, with the aim of cutting Slovenia off from the outside world and keeping it in the Yugoslav structure. There were also secret plans to replace the regime in Slovenia. The Slovene leadership responded to the YNA acts by mobilising the local territorial defence force and the police, who started blocking and attacking the YNA units. The resistance to the YNA, which the Slovene leadership had declared to be an enemy force, was taken up spontaneously and in large numbers by ordinary Slovenes. The ten-day war for Slovenia's independence had started. After two days the Slovene resistance was already showing results. The YNA threatened Slovenia with retaliatory measures using all-out force. Public opinion in Europe started leaning in Slovenia's favour. In order to prevent any exacerbation or extension of the war, the "troika" from the European Community, Jaques Poos, Hans van den Broek and Gianni de Michelis, arrived in Zagreb on 29 June 1991 and attempted to broker a ceasefire. But the military operations continued unabated up until 2 July. On that day a Slovene delegation arranged with the European troika in Zagreb a ceasefire on the basis of a prior agreement on 1 July in Ljubljana between the Slovene leadership and a delegation of the Yugoslav government headed by its prime minister Ante Markovic. At that moment the YNA had already been defeated in Slovenia. On 7 July the mediation of European diplomats at a meeting of Yugoslav and Slovene delegations produced an agreement. The Republic of Slovenia retained control over its territory, including its external borders, while the Slovene forces released their blockade of YNA units, which had to return to barracks, all prisoners of war were released and for three months Slovenia had to refrain from any further independence measures.

International Recognitions

During this moratorium independent Slovenia was recognised by Croatia, Lithuania, Georgia, Latvia and Estonia. Since by 8 October no new agreement had been reached between Slovenia and Yugoslavia, the international verdict of Yugoslavia's collapse was passed. Slovenia started making efforts to secure international recognition, something which elicited favourable words from French President Francois Mitterand on 3 October during the visit by President Kucan and foreign minister Rupel.

Before Christmas 1991 the European Community resolved to recognise the independent states of Slovenia and Croatia on 15 January 1992, and this resolution was indeed fulfilled. This was followed by recognition from many other countries, including recognition for Slovenia from the USA in April 1992, and in May Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina were accepted into the United Nations. In May 1993 Slovenia was accepted into the Council of Europe.

Following the declaration of independence Slovenia's internal political scene developed rapidly. Within the Demos governing coalition, and particularly in its main party, the Democratic Alliance of Slovenia, a rift started to appear between the liberal and Catholic- conservative sections with regard to the constitution and the privatisation law. A consensus was established and the end of 1991 saw adoption of a new, modern liberal democratic constitution founded on the rights of the person and citizen formulated on the model of European enlightenment.


In April 1992, as a result of disagreements in the Demos coalition, Lojze Peterle's Demos government collapsed, and a new government, based on a broad coalition of the Liberal Democrat Party (LDS), the Socialist Party, reformed communists and half of the Demos parties, was formed by the LDS president Janez Drnovsek, a young politician, the penultimate president of the presidency of Yugoslavia in 1989/90, who was able to adopt a modern, non- ideological, pragmatic liberal stance. His eight-month government achieved a great deal towards establishing Slovenia in the international arena, while in domestic affairs it halted the downward slide in wages, and passed laws on privatisation, bank rehabilitation and on elections.

In the elections of December 1992 the LDS secured victory with 23% of the vote, and formed a kind of centrist coalition with one of the centre-right parties, the Christian Democrats, and two centre-left social democratic parties.

Despite its insignificant majority, in this coalition the LDS exercised a clearly leading role and implemented its liberal social and political model of development for Slovenia. In the parliamentary elections of 1996 the LDS again came out the strongest party, but the parties of the conservative right gained 50% of the vote. The LDS succeeded in breaking up the right- wing bloc by bringing into the government the Slovene People's Party, which remained a junior partner in the government and subsequently lost influence. The latest elections in October 2000 produced a very good result for the LDS, which was then able more easily to select coalition partners that had to accept the liberal government agenda.

Dr Janko Prunk