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|
The Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovene: Slovenska demokratska stranka, SDS), known until 2003 as the Social Democratic Party of Slovenia (Socialdemokratska stranka Slovenije) is conservative political party in Slovenia and is led by Janez Janša. SDS won 26.19% of the vote at the early 2011 Slovenian parliamentary election on 4 December 2011, thus gaining 26 seats in the National Assembly.
The SDS is one of the two largest parties in Slovenia, along with the centre-left opposition party Positive Slovenia. The SDS is the second-largest party in the National Assembly, with 26 MPs (28.8% of the total) as of the 2011 election. 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.
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The Slovenian Democratic Party has developed from the fusion of two distinct democratic political traditions, 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 Slovenian Democratic Union was founded in January 1989 and the Social Democratic Union in February of the same year, as opposition movements to the Communist Party of Slovenia which had ruled the Slovenia since 1945. From the very beginning, both parties voiced their support for the transition to a democratic and pluralistic political order, a market economy, the 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). Both parties have, in their programs, opposed communism and favoured Slovenian independence. The Slovenian Democratic Union functioned as a broad but somehow fragmented coalition of several groups with different liberal, social-liberal and civic nationalist agendas. The Social-Democratic Union of Slovenia, on the other hand, 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.
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. A third group, dissatisfied with both options, joined Jože Pučnik's Social Democratic Party (SDSS, later simplified to SDS). Nevertheless, Pučnik's party suffered a clear defeat in the 1992 elections, barely securing its entry in the Parliament. Nevertheless, it formed a coalition with the winning Liberal Democracy of Slovenia and entered Janez Drnovšek's cabinet.
The conservative turn
In May 1993, Janez Janša, former member of the Slovenian Democratic Union and minister of defence during the Slovenian War of Independence, was elected president of the Party with the support of Jože Pučnik who resigned and became the honorary president of the party (the function he held until his death in January 2003). Janša remained the only social-democratic minister in Drnovšek's coalition government until March 1994, when he was dismissed by Prime Minister Janez Drnovšek following allegations that he allowed the military to interfere in civilian justice. He was subsequently cleared following an inquiry. This provoked a government crisis in which the SDS left the coalition and became the strongest opponent of Drnovšek's policies. It stayed in opposition for the next 10 years (except for a short period in 2000 when it entered a short-lived centre-right government led by Andrej Bajuk), slowly gaining in popularity and shifting to socially more conservative and economically more liberal positions. In 1995, the National Democrats joined the party, which thus became one of the legal successors of the Slovenian Democratic Union.
Janša and his Social Democratic Party party have been noted by political scientists for radical populism, nationalistic and xenophobic rhetoric. Moreover, the Catholic Church supported the Social Democratic Party more than any other party. Even though not a nominally Christian party, the church has stood fully and unconditionally behind it.
In the year 2000, the party decided to apply for membership in the European People's Party and in 2003 it changed its name from the previous Social Democratic Party of Slovenia to Slovenian Democratic Party (while maintaining the same acronym, SDS). In a new program, adopted the same year, the SDS defined itself as a centrist party, a definition that hasn't been changed since. It adopted a fully economic liberal program in economic policy, but maintained a basically centrist policy in social issues. It reiterated its unconditional support of the European Union and a strongly emphasised atlantist policy, which had been in the programme of the party since its founding.
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); as of 2008 the SDS leads a governing coalition consisting of four parties.
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 framing a new division of the country into provinces. The Government 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 SDS-led government has also been criticised for introducing economically non-sustainable changes in the pension system in order to please its coalition party, the Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia.
While in government, the SDS has been accused of supporting the agenda advanced by the 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).
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.
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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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