Slovenian Democratic Party
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2011)|
|Slovenian Democratic Party
Slovenska demokratska stranka
|Founded||16 February 1989|
|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|
|Politics of Slovenia
The Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovene: Slovenska demokratska stranka, SDS) is conservative political party in Slovenia and is 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.
On 4 December 2011, at the last (early) 2011 Slovenian parliamentary election it won 26.19% of the vote and gained 26 seats in the National Assembly, which makes it the second-largest party - after the centre-left party Positive Slovenia - in the National Assembly, with 26 MPs (28.8% of the total).
In the 2009 European Parliament election, it obtained 26.7% of the votes, which yielded three seats out of eight from Slovenia. The SDS is a member of the European People's Party (EPP) and its MEPs sit in the EPP Group in the European parliament.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (November 2011)|
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
Upon being dismissed by Prime Minister Janez Drnovšek because of allegedly 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".
The party's radical populism, nationalistic and xenophobic rhetoric was noticed also by political scientists. 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.
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.
2004-2008: In power
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
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.
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.
2011-2013: Two years in power
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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". In January 2013, media reported about an indictment that the Slovenian Intelligence and Security Agency was intruded by members of the party.
The government subsequently received a vote of no confidence because of the anti-corruption report.
Organization and political affiliation
The Slovenian Democratic Party has around 27,000 members, which is the largest party membership in Slovenia. 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.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (November 2011)|
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, 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.
Presidents of the Social Democratic Party and Slovenian Democratic Party
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