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Slovenia Modern History

The foundation of Slovenia's independence was laid after World War II when a Slovenian sub-republic was formed in 1945, within the Republic of Yugoslavia. Slovenia's ties to Italian Trieste gave the Slovenes access to information from the West and border trade during the communist era in Yugoslavia. Slovenia was the most developed sub-republic and became the first to break into independence in 1991. The relatively well-developed economy gave Slovenia the lead in market reforms. The country joined both the EU and NATO in 2004.

After the war, Slovenia got the eastern part of Gorizia which Austria had resigned to Italy in 1920. Western Gorizia with the city of Trieste, liberated by the partisans, on the other hand, became a disputed area. The Allies insisted that Trieste be placed under UN control. It was not until 1954 that the city's status was established, when Slovenia was formally granted another piece of coast and Italy gained supremacy over Trieste. A significant Slovenian minority thus came to live in Italy at the same time as many Italians chose to move from the parts that became Slovenian.

  • ABBREVIATIONFINDER: List of most commonly used acronyms containing Slovenia. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.

The leader of Yugoslavia Tito went to the beginning of Soviet leader Josef Stalin. The Communist Party was the only permissible political force, all opposition was suppressed and major parts of business were nationalized. Eventually, however, Tito came on a collision course with Stalin and in 1948 Yugoslavia was excluded from the communist community. Tito changed domestic policy and allowed decentralization of economic decision-making, including through self-management systems at the factories. Yugoslavia then received extensive financial and military assistance from the United States and other Western countries.

Contemporary History of SloveniaGrowing internal contradictions

Slovenia's special ties to Italian Trieste meant that the Slovenes had access to uncensored information from the West as well as a thriving black border trade. Slovenia was the richest and most industrialized Yugoslav sub-republic and was annoyed at being forced to contribute to financial smoothing within the federation - especially as it was suspected that a large portion of the money went to bragging projects in poorer sub-republics and to the bureaucracy in Belgrade.

In the 1970s, Yugoslavia began to have financial problems, which only worsened during the 1980s. At the same time, the internal contradictions increased. The 1974 constitution, created after a Croatian uprising, gave the republics extensive self-government with their own governments and administrations. Belgrade's central government was responsible for foreign policy, defense and parts of the economy, but the sub-republics were able to veto important issues and for the most part the federation's best came second.

After Tito's death in 1980, nationalist currents came to the surface. In Serbia, Slobodan Milošević, who later became the president of Serbia, began to unite and revive Serbian nationalists, first against Albanians in Kosovo, later against Croats and Slovenes. In 1988, the Slovenes were upset by a military trial against an army officer and three journalists who criticized the Yugoslav People's Army. Independence began to be discussed openly. Opposition parties were allowed and free multi-party was announced. At the end of 1989, six of the leading newly formed opposition parties formed the Democratic Opposition coalition in Slovenia (Demos).

When Milošević called for an economic boycott of Slovenia, the Slovenes withdrew part of the contribution to the federal budget. After a proposal for increased autonomy for the sub-republics was voted down by the Congress of the Yugoslav Communist Party in January 1990, the Slovenian delegation left the congress. The Slovenian Communist Party left the Yugoslav Party and changed its name to the Democratic Reform Party (SDR).

When the first multi-party was held in Slovenia in April 1990, Demos was able to form a government. President became SDR leader Milan Kučan.

In July 1990, the Slovenian National Assembly, by overwhelming majority, declared Slovenia a sovereign state, without explicitly declaring that it left Yugoslavia. Thus, Slovenian laws would apply before federal laws. Slovenia also took control of the territorial defense, a form of home defense in the republics. The young dissident Janez Janša, as newly appointed Minister of Defense, was commissioned to organize an armed force. In response, the Yugoslav army attempted to confiscate weapons and premises from the territorial defense.

In a referendum in December 1990, 89 percent of Slovenian voters voted for full Slovenian independence. Half a year followed with failed negotiations to find a new form for the Yugoslav Federation.

Autonomy

On June 25, 1991, Slovenia declared its independence. Only a few hours later, Croatia followed suit.

In Slovenia, war broke out between the Yugoslav army and the Slovenian outbreak, but it only lasted for ten days. About 80 people were killed, most of them Yugoslav soldiers. The Serbian leadership, with Slobodan Milošević at the forefront, soon let Slovenia leave to concentrate instead on Croatia's forces with its large Serbian minority. In Croatia, war broke out until the end of 1995.

Slovenia agreed to postpone the formal independence for three months against the resignation of the Yugoslav army, following the EU's mediation of a ceasefire. The country became completely independent on October 7. A new currency, tolar, was introduced at the same time. In December 1991, the Slovenian Parliament adopted a new constitution.

Through independence, Slovenia's political life changed. Demos fell apart and Janez Drnovšek, leader of the Slovenian Liberal Democrats (LDS), formed a broad government of the center and left parties. When the first parliamentary elections after independence were held in December 1992, LDS became the largest party. In the simultaneous presidential election, former communist leader Milan Kučan stood as an independent candidate and won by a large margin.

Despite a good starting position, the Slovenian economy experienced major problems in connection with independence. Slovenes made up only 8 percent of the population in the now disintegrating Yugoslavia, but they accounted for 20 percent of the country's economy and 30 percent of exports. The main reason for the difficulties that arose was that exports to the other Yugoslav sub-republics almost ceased. Previously, almost two-thirds of Slovenian exports had gone to other sub-republics. The planning economy - a legacy of the communist era - also had an inhibiting effect. The state-owned companies had difficulty surviving on the free market that became reality when communism fell.

Industrial production fell sharply and the standard of living fell to 1972 levels. But the Slovenes managed to quickly replace large parts of the lost markets in ex-Yugoslavia with new ones in Western Europe. At the same time, a privatization of business was initiated. Already after two years, the economy began to recover.

Political scandals

The policy was largely characterized by a series of scandals in 1993–1994. The most serious was the supply of arms to Bosnia and Herzegovina in violation of the UN arms embargo. Defense Minister Janez Janša was charged with interference but was acquitted.

In the 1996 parliamentary elections, LDS went ahead and Drnovšek formed a new government. The following year, the popular Milan Kučan was re-elected for a second term in five years.

Prime Minister Drnovšek resigned in April 2000, after losing a vote of confidence in Parliament and the government coalition exploded. A new government was temporarily formed under the leadership of the Christian Democratic Slovenian People's Party (SLS). But since LDS progressed in the parliamentary elections in October of that year, Drnovšek returned as prime minister for a broad-centered coalition.

Two years later Drnovšek won the presidential election and was succeeded as head of government by Finance Minister Anton (Tone) Rop, who also took over the post as party leader for LDS.

The government's main goal was to bring Slovenia into the EU and NATO, and to accelerate the liberalization of the economy. The EU Commission was satisfied with the development in many areas but criticized Slovenia for not having gone far enough in the sale of state-owned enterprises, especially in the banking and insurance sectors. Slovenia was also urged to speed up the return of private, especially Italian, property that was taken over by the state during the communist era and to streamline state administration. By the end of 2002, the EU negotiations had ended and in the spring of 2003, the Slovenes were allowed to vote in a decisive referendum. Nearly 90 percent voted for EU membership and 66 percent voted for NATO membership.

Membership in NATO and the EU

In March 2004, Slovenia became a full member of NATO, and on May 1 of that year, it became an EU member.

The 2004 parliamentary elections led to a shift in power, when the LDS Liberal Democrats lost for the first time since independence. The conservative Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) won and party leader Janez Janša became prime minister. He formed a coalition government with both Christian Democratic parties SLS and New Slovenia (NSI), as well as the Democratic Pensioners Party (Desus).

Among other things, the new center-right government wanted to implement a tax reform in the neo-liberal spirit. A radical privatization program was also on the agenda. From the trade unions and the left opposition, the opposition was strongly opposed to the proposed reforms. After major protests, plans for so-called flat taxes were replaced with lower taxes for the most wealthy. Several planned privatizations of state-owned companies also had to be shelved. In other cases, former executives bought into the companies with the help of bank loans.

The growing dissatisfaction with the bourgeois government was reflected in the October / November 2007 presidential election, when the independent candidate and former UN diplomat Danilo Türk won with the support of the opposition.

In the 2008 parliamentary elections, the Social Democrats (SD) were the largest by a small margin. Social Democrats leader Borut Pahor now formed a center-left government with LDS, Desus and Social Liberal Slovenia for real (Zares).

Prior to the accession, Pahor promised a fairer economic policy with increased state control. But at the same time, the international financial crisis began to have repercussions in Slovenia. The economy shrank by 8 percent in 2009 and the budget deficit rose to over 5 percent.

Tightening causes dissatisfaction

The government tried to cope with the economic crisis through cuts, including a pay cut for public sector employees. This led to widespread protests and strikes. The government also suffered setbacks in two referendums in 2011, when voters said no to changes in labor law and rejected plans to raise retirement age.

The worsening economic crisis, with rising interest rates, fueled voter dissatisfaction and increased internal contradictions. After two parties left the coalition, the government fell.

In the recent election held in December 2011, a center-left party formed just six weeks earlier, won Positive Slovenia. Founder was Ljubljana's popular mayor, the wealthy businessman Zoran Janković. But Janković failed to negotiate a government coalition. Thus, the door was open to SDS, which came in second place. SDS leader Janez Janša now returned as head of government, despite being charged with corruption. Janša was suspected of receiving bribes in connection with the ordering of armored cars from a Finnish company in 2006, when he was prime minister.

Coalition takes office

In February 2012, a government coalition comprising Janšas SDS, the newly formed Liberal Party Gregor Virant's National List, the Pensioners' Party Desus and the two Christian Democratic parties SLS and NSI took office.

Janša's government inherited the financial problems. In April, the country was shaken by the largest general strike since independence in 1991. About 100,000 public servants participated. But after the government made some concessions, Janša managed to agree with the trade unions on a major austerity package that was pushed through by Parliament.

The financial strain led to falling popularity figures for the government in the autumn. Major protest actions were held in several cities, against the anti-gang policy and against the suspected corruption among the country's rulers.

In the November and December 2012 presidential elections, Social Democrat former Prime Minister Borut Pahor won convincingly in the second round of incumbent President Danilo Türk. The victory was somewhat surprising as Pahor supported the government's budget cuts while Türk was critical.

Bribery investigates the government

In early 2013 came a report from the Independent Anti-Corruption Commission, which had investigated the leaders of all major parties. According to the Commission, neither Janša nor opposition leader Zoran Janković had accounted for all his private assets, in violation of the law. Janša claimed it was an unconscious mistake.

But the accusations caused the government to gradually drop the breast and in February Parliament voted to dismiss Janša. The task of forming a new government now went to Alenka Bratušek, who took over as leader of Positive Slovenia when Janković temporarily left all assignments for the party because of the bribery charges. Slovenia then got its first female head of government. She formed a four-party coalition that also included the Social Democrats, Citizens List and Desus.

The new coalition must deal with the recession and the crisis discovered by banks that were burdened by bad loans. Concerns grew for Slovenia to become yet another euro area forced to seek international emergency loans. But Bratušek managed to get through a package of budget cuts, tax increases and privatizations, while dampening popular protests. Slovenia managed to strengthen the banks on its own with large capital injections, without requesting assistance from abroad. However, it contributed to an increase in the budget deficit and central government debt (see Financial overview).

The government was also pressured by the fact that Janković wanted to be re-elected as party leader for Positive Slovenia. When he received support internally in the party, Bratušek announced that she could not remain, and the coalition parties in the government declared that they could not co-operate with Janković. The result was again a new election.

Newly formed party forms government

In the new election held in July 2014, the newly formed center-left party, Milo Cerar's party (SMC), won (see Calendar). Cerar lacked political experience but was a respected professor of law at the University of Ljubljana. He was known as an adviser to the National Assembly on constitutional issues and appeared frequently in the media. Cerar also came from a well-known family: his father was an acclaimed Olympic gymnast and his mother was prosecutor and minister of justice.

In addition to the SMC, two other new parties also joined Parliament: the United Left (ZL) and Alenka Bratušek's alliance (Zaab). The latter was formed by the outgoing Prime Minister Bratušek when she was dismissed from the post of party leader in Positive Slovenia and her government thereby fell. In total, the three newcomers received 45 percent of the vote. Positive Slovenia, which became the largest party in the 2011 elections, did not even manage to cross the four per cent block and was left without a seat in Parliament.

Miro Cerar's party - which in 2015 changed its name to the Modern Center Party (SMC) - formed a center-left government with the retirement party Desus and the Social Democrats.

A major project for the Cerar government was an extension of the railway from Divača to the port city of Koper, to increase capacity. However, critics who felt that there were deficiencies in, among other things, the financing of the project forced a referendum (see Political system) on the decision. The voters supported the project, but the Constitutional Court annulled the referendum, citing the government's bias in the matter. As a result, Prime Minister Cerar resigned in March 2018, a few months before the regular elections were held.

 
 

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