Slovenian Democratic Party

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Slovenian Democratic Party
Leader Janez Janša
Founded 16 February 1989
Headquarters Ljubljana
Ideology Conservatism[1][2]
Liberal conservatism
National conservatism[3]
Political position Historical:
International affiliation Centrist Democrat International,
International Democrat Union
European affiliation European People's Party
European Parliament group European People's Party
Colours Yellow and blue
National Assembly
21 / 90
European Parliament
3 / 8
Politics of Slovenia
Political parties

The Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovene: Slovenska demokratska stranka, SDS) is conservative[9][10] and liberal-conservative[11][12] political party in Slovenia led by Janez Janša. In 2003, it changed its name from the previous Social Democratic Party of Slovenia (Socialdemokratska stranka Slovenije) while maintaining the same acronym. The SDS is a member of the European People's Party (EPP), Centrist Democrat International and International Democrat Union.



The Slovenian Democratic Party has developed from the fusion of two distinct political parties, being the legal successor of both of the Social-Democratic Union of Slovenia and the Slovenian Democratic Union, two of the most influential parties of the DEMOS coalition which defeated the former Communist Party of Slovenia in the first free elections of April 1990 and carried out the democratization of Slovenia and its secession from Yugoslavia. The Social-Democratic Union of Slovenia had emerged from an independent, anti-Communist trade union movement in the late 1980s. Its first president was the trade union leader France Tomšič, who in December 1987 organized the first successful large-scale workers strike in Communist Slovenia, following the example of Lech Wałęsa's Solidarity movement in Poland. He however resigned soon after the founding of the party, endorsing the leadership of Jože Pučnik, a former dissident who had been forced to emigrate to Germany in the 1960s. Under Pučnik's leadership, The Social Democratic Union of Slovenia gradually developed into a moderate non-Marxist social-democratic party, which combined the plea for a social market economy with the support of a welfare state on a German, Austrian and Scandinavian model.

The Slovenian Democratic Union, on the other hand, was founded in January 1989, as opposition to the Communist Party of Slovenia, emphasizing establishment of the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental political freedoms, respect for minority rights, and the inclusion of Slovenia in the Euro-Atlantic integrations (the European Union and NATO). It functioned as a broad but somehow fragmented coalition of several groups with different liberal, social-liberal and civic nationalist agendas.

In 1992, the Slovenian Democratic Union split into two parties: the social liberal wing established the Democratic Party, while the conservative faction founded the National Democratic Party. Members who have not joined either, decided to join the Social-Democratic Party led by Jože Pučnik. Although it suffered a clear defeat in the 1992 elections, barely securing its entry in the Parliament, it formed a coalition with the winning Liberal Democracy of Slovenia and entered Janez Drnovšek's cabinet.

The radical populist turn[edit]

Upon being dismissed by Prime Minister Janez Drnovšek because of being involved in the attempts of the military interfering in civilian justice, the party's leader became Janez Janša, while Jože Pučnik resigned and became the honorary president of the party (the function he held until his death in January 2003). Janša was subsequently cleared, following an inquiry. The party unconditionally supported its new leader and decided to leave the coalition and stayed in opposition for the next ten years (except for a short period in 2000 when it entered a short-lived centre-right government led by Andrej Bajuk), in the mean time gaining in popularity among - as described by one of its former supporters, Peter Jambrek - "lower, frustrated social strata".[13]

The party's radical populism, nationalistic[4] and xenophobic rhetoric was noticed also by political scientists.[14][15][16] Moreover, the local Slovenian Catholic Church supported it more than any other Slovenian political party. Even though not a nominally Christian party, the local church has stood fully and unconditionally behind it.[14]

In 1995, the National Democrats joined the party, which thus became one of the legal successors of the Slovenian Democratic Union.

After the year 2000, the party applied for membership in the European People's Party, adopting a liberal economic policy and later pro-austerity measures upon the late-2000 economic crisis, while retaining foreign atlantist policy.

In 2004, it clearly won the elections and formed a coalition with the Christian-democratic New Slovenia party, the conservative Slovenian People's Party, and the single-issue Pensioners' Party.

2004-2008: In power[edit]

At the Slovenian election in 2004, the party won 29.1% of the popular vote and 29 out of 88 seats. It was given a six-point advance over the previously governing Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (Liberalna Demokracija Slovenije).

The SDS-led government introduced reform in its fiscal policy, passed several pro-business measures, initiated the regionalisation of the country by giving more power to local governments, and - in order to please its coalition party, the Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia - introduced economically non-sustainable changes in the pension system. It has been accused of supporting the agenda advanced by the local Slovenian Roman Catholic Church. Nevertheless, the Church maintained a critical attitude towards some of the party's positions (the SDS-led Government has assumed a favourable attitude towards gambling tourism, stem cell research and passed a law recognizing same-sex civil unions, all things opposed by the Roman Catholic Church).

It also introduced measures to curtail the powers of the Slovenian Intelligence and Security Agency. These measures have been strongly attacked by the opposition and segments of the press as an attempt to discredit the secret intelligence service and cast a negative shadow on the policies of previous governments.

The centre-left opposition also accused the SDS in general (and the Prime Minister Janez Janša in particular) of meddling with the independent press. The SDS, on the other side, rejected such accusations claiming that the media have been controlled by the left-wing political groups since the independence of the country and that they have repeatedly tried to discredit Janša.

2008-2011: In opposition[edit]

At the Slovenian election in 2008, the party gained in popular support, but narrowly lost against the Social democrats, until then the main opposition party. It and also lost one seat in Slovenian Parliament, falling to 28.

With the election of the Social Democrat leader Borut Pahor as Prime Minister of Slovenia, the Slovenian Democratic Party officially declared it would stay in opposition and form a shadow cabinet. The shadow government was formed in late December 2008, and it includes several independent members as well as members from other conservative parties.[17]

In the European elections of 2009, the SDS was the most voted-for party in Slovenia with 26.9% of votes, more than eight points ahead of the second most voted party, the ruling Social Democrats.

In May 2009, the Slovenian Democratic Party started to lead in most opinion polls, and since December 2009 it has maintained a constant lead over its main rival, the Social Democrats.[18]

In 2009, the MP Franc Pukšič left the Slovenian Democratic Party and joined the Slovenian People's Party; the SDS parliamentary group thus shrunk from 28 to 27 MPs.

On 4 December 2011, at the (early) 2011 Slovenian parliamentary election the SDS won 26.19% of the vote and gained 26 seats in the National Assembly,[19] which makes it the second-largest party after the newly formed centre-left party Positive Slovenia in the National Assembly, with 26 MPs (28.8% of the total).

2012-2013: A year in power[edit]

After 2011, the party and its coalition partners Civic List, New Slovenia, Slovenian People's Party, and Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia proposed harsh austerity reforms. Some of the structural reforms proposed by them have been similar to measures proposed by the previous center-left government, at that time rejected by Janša's party in opposition.

In relation to the allegations made by official Commission for the Prevention of Corruption's report, the party sent letters to the right-wing European Parliament members, discrediting the Commission as part of "the communist campaign that begun in 1983 with the aim to remove Janša from politics".[20] In January 2013, media reported about an indictment that the Slovenian Intelligence and Security Agency was intruded by members of the party.[21]

The government subsequently received a vote of no confidence because of the anti-corruption report.

2013-: Return to opposition[edit]

In the 2014 European Parliament election, the SDS came in first place nationally, obtaining 24.78% of the vote,[22][23] which returned three MEP seats out of eight allocated for Slovenia.[24]

The party received 20.69% of the vote in the Slovenian parliamentary election on 13 July 2014, and won 21 seats in parliament.[25]

Parliamentary representation[edit]

Electoral performance[edit]

Election Votes  % Seats +/– Position Government
1990 79,951 7.4
6 / 80
Increase 6 Increase 7th Coalition
1992 39,675 3.3
4 / 90
Decrease 2 Decrease 8th Coalition
1996 172,470 16.3
16 / 90
Increase 12 Increase 3rd Opposition
2000 170,228 15.8
14 / 90
Decrease 2 Increase 2nd Opposition
2004 281,710 29.0
29 / 90
Increase 15 Increase 1st Coalition
2008 307,735 29.2
28 / 90
Decrease 1 Decrease 2nd Opposition
2011 288,719 26.1
26 / 90
Decrease 2 Steady 2nd Coalition
2014 181,052 20.7
21 / 90
Decrease 5 Steady 2nd Opposition

Organization and political affiliation[edit]

The Slovenian Democratic Party has around 27,000 members, which is the largest party membership in Slovenia.[26] The party is subdivided into several organizations that cover specific segments; one of them is the Slovenian Democratic Youth (Slovene: Slovenska demokratska mladina, acronym SDM), the youth section of the party, currently led by Andrej Čuš.

Influential members and officials of the party include Matjaž Šinkovec who was co-founder of the Slovenian Social Democratic Union, Milan Zver, current vice president of the party and European MP, former chairman of the Slovenian National Assembly France Cukjati, and former ministers Dragutin Mate, Iztok Jarc, and member of European Parliament Romana Jordan Cizelj. Among the deceased members, the most prominent were Jože Pučnik, Rudi Šeligo and Katja Boh.

The Party is also affiliated with the major liberal-conservative think tank in Slovenia, the Jože Pučnik Institute. It is also close to the civic platform Rally for the Republic (Zbor za republiko).


The party has a strong support in some neoconservative and classical liberal intellectual circles in Slovenia. Public figures who have publicly supported the party or have been known of being close to its policies and programmatic stance include the economist Ljubo Sirc (who joined the party in May 2010), philosopher Ivan Urbančič, sociologist Frane Adam, historians Vasko Simoniti and Alenka Puhar, writer and essayist Drago Jančar, poet and editor Niko Grafenauer, literary historian Janko Kos, theologian and philosopher Janez Juhant, and poets Dane Zajc and Tone Kuntner. Public supporters of the party also include sportsmen Miran Pavlin, Aleš Čeh, Sebastjan Cimirotič, Katja Koren, and Davo Karničar, pop singer Marta Zore, designer and cartoonist Miki Muster, actors Radko Polič and Roman Končar, actor and showman Jernej Kuntner.

Former supporters[edit]

Former supporters, now critics of the party and dissidents, include one of the fathers of the current Slovenian Constitution Peter Jambrek, the former chairman of Rally for the Republic and present central liberal politic party Civic List's leader Gregor Virant, and liberal economist Jože P. Damijan. Miha Brejc became persona non grata after his son-in-law Gregor Virant distanced himself from Janša and established Civic List.

Party leaders[edit]

Presidents of the Social Democratic Party and Slovenian Democratic Party

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck
  2. ^ Irwin, Zachary T. (2006), "Sweden and Slovenia: Civic Values and the EU on the Periphery", Democratic transition in Slovenia (Texas A&M University Press): 104 
  3. ^ Bakke, Elisabeth (2010), "Central and East European party systems since 1989", Central and Southeast European Politics Since 1989 (Cambridge University Press): 79 
  4. ^ a b Hloušek, Vít; Kopeček, Lubomír (2010), Origin, Ideology and Transformation of Political Parties: East-Central and Western Europe Compared, Ashgate, p. 26 
  5. ^ Lewis, Paul G. (2000), Political Parties in Post-Communist Eastern Europe, Routledge, p. 167 
  6. ^ Makarovič, Matej; Tomšič, Matevž (2009), "‘Left‘ and ’Right’ in Slovenian Political Life and Public Discourse", Reforming Europe: The Role of the Centre-Right (Springer): 264 
  7. ^ Fink-Hafner, Danica (2010), "Slovenia since 1989", Central and Southeast European Politics Since 1989 (Cambridge University Press): 244 
  8. ^ Fink-Hafner, Danica (2006), "Slovenia: Between Bipolarity and Broad Coalition-Building", Post-communist EU member states: Parties and Party Systems (Ashgate): 211 
  9. ^ Susanne Jungerstam-Mulders (2006). Post-Communist EU Member States: Parties And Party Systems. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 215–. ISBN 978-0-7546-4712-6. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  10. ^ José Magone (26 August 2010). Contemporary European Politics: A Comparative Introduction. Routledge. pp. 457–. ISBN 978-0-203-84639-1. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Igor Guardiancich (21 August 2012). Pension Reforms in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe: From Post-Socialist Transition to the Global Financial Crisis. Routledge. pp. 194–. ISBN 978-1-136-22595-6. 
  12. ^ Alfio Cerami (2006). Social Policy in Central and Eastern Europe: The Emergence of a New European Welfare Regime. LIT Verlag Münster. pp. 29–. ISBN 978-3-8258-9699-7. 
  13. ^ Peter Jambrek o tem, da je SDS stranka frustriranih nižjih slojev, Dnevnik, 25. Cctober 2011
  14. ^ a b Rizman, Rudolf M. (1999), "Radical Right Politics in Slovenia", The radical right in Central and Eastern Europe since 1989 (Penn State Press): 155–162, retrieved 14 November  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  15. ^ Hall, Ian; Perrault, Magali (3 April 2000), "The Re-Austrianisation of Central Europe?", Central Europe Review 2 (13), retrieved 14 November 2011 
  16. ^ Rizman, Rudolf M. (2006), Uncertain path: Democratic transition and consolidation in Slovenia, Texas A&M University Press, p. 74, retrieved 14 November 2011 
  17. ^ "STA: SDS ustanovila strokovni svet". 2008-12-23. Retrieved 2014-07-10. 
  18. ^ Slovenski utrip: za sporazum 36,6, proti 31,8 odstotka, MMC RTV-SLO, 26 May 2010
  19. ^ "Republic of Slovenia Early Elections for Deputies to the National Assembly 2011". National Electoral Commission. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  20. ^ Pribac: The THe SDS Letter Is Interpreting the Recent 30 Years of Slovene History as Socialist Conspiracy Against Janša (In Slovene: "Pribac: Pismo SDS predstavlja zadnjih 30 let slovenske zgodovine kot socialistično zaroto zoper Janšo"), Dnevnik, 17 January 2013
  21. ^ An Intrusion of the Members of SDS into Sova (In Slovene: "Vdor kadrov SDS v Sovo"), Mladina, 18 January 2013
  22. ^ "EU volitve 2014 / 18". Retrieved 2014-07-10. 
  23. ^ "European parliament elections 2014". 2014-05-25. Retrieved 2014-07-10. 
  24. ^ "European parliament elections 2014". 2014-05-25. Retrieved 2014-07-10. 
  25. ^ Predčasne Volitve V Državni Zbor 2014 Republika Slovenija - Državna volilna komisija. Accessed 13 July 2014
  26. ^ Sirc, član SDS, Demokracija, 12 May 2010