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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

[30 YEARS OF INDEPENDENT SLOVENIA] Slovenian governments from independence to the present day: Under the sign of the supremacy of leftist continuity

By: Gašper Blažič

Since the first multiparty elections in the spring of 1990 and until the present day, Slovenians have had nine parliamentary elections. In this period, we have had 13 different governments. The current government, led by Janez Janša, who is now the Prime Minister for the third time, is our 14th government since 1990.  

We had our first democratic government in May 1990, when the then Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, still under the terms of a slightly changed constitution by Kardelj confirmed the executive council, or the government, under the leadership of Lojze Peterle, the president of the Slovenian Christian Democrats party. Following this, the era of the old executive councils – the last one was led by Dušan Šinigoj between 1986 and 1990 – was over.  

Drnovšek as a record holder 

If we compared the party composition of the governments from then until now and assessed their duration, we would reach the following conclusions: From all of the governments, only two lasted the entire four-year mandate, the government of Drnovšek from 1992 to 1997, and the government of Janša from 2004 to 2008. Janez Drnovšek also holds the record as the longest serving Prime Minister since he led all the governments from the spring of 1992 to the end of 2002, when he was elected as the President of Slovenia. In between, he took a half-year “break” in 2000, because of Bajuk´s government. But, if we take a look at the political camps, we realize that we have never had a completely ‘spring’ government, except for the one led by Bajuk ( SLS+SKD, SDS). In every government coalition there was a party from “the other side”. And with the enacted proportional representation system, the political instability grew, so that after 2008 we have had a series of snap elections. Nevertheless, the truth remains that, regardless of which party had the means for assembling the coalition, statistically we have been ruled by the forces of continuity for two thirds of the thirty years of independence.  

Mixed coalitions with a “fig´s leaf” 

Let’s take a look at how it was. Under the DEMOS government, practically no party held an advantage, since SDZ held strong ministerial positions, and the Prime Minister was from SKD, while the members of oppositional parties were also in government (Jožica Puhar, Franc Godeša). After the fall of DEMOS, whose government received a constructive no confidence vote, Janez Drnovšek, who had gained quite a following as the member of the SFRY presidency with the help of the media, became the Prime Minister for the first time. Before that, he had become the president of the Liberal-Democratic party, which later expanded into the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia. While the first coalition included members of the Democratic Party (former fraction of SDZ) and Pučnik´s Social Democrats, the next coalitions included SKD and SLS, both once. The exit of the SLS from the coalition in 2000 indirectly caused the fall of Drnovšek´s government, and the election of Bajuk´s government prevented snap elections. But the main question, the question of the enactment of the legitimate voting system, was only formally solved by a constitutional change. 

Series of snap elections 

In the mandate of 2000-2004, the SLS (+SKD) participated at the beginning, but was eliminated from the coalition when Anton Rop became Prime Minister. After the defeat of the LDS and the victory of SDS, the centre-right coalition ruled (SDS, NSi, SLS and DeSUS), which lasted a full four years. The artificially created ‘Patria affair’ helped install a new Prime Minister, Borut Pahor, and the leftist triple (SD, LDS, Zares) with the assistance of DeSUS. The exit of Zares undermined the coalition and caused snap elections, at which the Janković’s “project” of the Positive Slovenia party won, but was not able to form a coalition. The reigns were again taken over by Janša (SDS, NSi, SLS, Državljanska lista…), but only for a year, since a constructive vote of no confidence passed with the help of a newly staged affair. Alenka Bratušek, the temporary president of the Positive Slovenia party went solo while serving as Prime Minister, by founding her own party, and she managed to stay in politics after the elections. A victory of another “project” – this time the party of Miro Cerar – followed, but Cerar also resigned before the end of his mandate. After the elections in 2018, when SDS received the most votes, the majority of other parliamentary parties formed an “anti-Janša” coalition, headed by the Prime Minister Marjan Šarec. Since he resigned in 2020, a new government was formed, which was headed by Janez Janša for the third time, assembled from SDS, NSi, SMC and DeSUS. The latter left the coalition in early 2021.   

DeSUS as a record holder of coalitions 

Statistically speaking, DeSUS has the most experience with government coalitions. Since the elections in 1996, when it first entered the parliament as an independent party, the party has spent a very small amount of time outside the government. For most of the time, it was led by Karel Erjavec, who has been a minister in six different governments (twice as the minister of defence, three times of foreign affairs and once of environment). For shorter periods of time, the party was led by Jožef Globačnik, Janko Kušar, Anton Rous and Aleksandra Pivec. The LDS party holds the record of assembling the government for the most times, in years 1992, 1993, 1997, 2000, and in 2003 when the Prime Minister was replaced.   

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