In Slovenia, poor economic conditions and glum everyday life, which for most people meant dealing primarily with buying basic living necessities and exchanging currency, led to increasingly critical views of society as early as the early 1980’s. Starting with the end of the 1970’s, younger generations would express their protest through the punk movement, followed by other alternative groups, the most notable being the Trbovlje-based Laibach group that emerged in 1980. Other multimedia collectives combining music, dance, video and various visual and sound effects were also popular. Also emerging were pacifist, environmental, feminist and other movements. These formed a strong social movement in mid-1980’s Slovenia.
The year 1982, based on an initiative by Slovenian intellectual circles and after lengthy debate and opposition from the authorities, saw the publication of the first issue of the opposition-favouring Nova revija. The Slovenian Writers’ Association, which brought together authors with differing ideological and political views, promoted critical views of conditions in Yugoslavia and stood for the protection of artistic freedom. In January 1985, it organised a massively attended and influential public tribune called ‘The Slovenian Nation and Culture’. The event opened up important issues regarding democratisation and a national programme.
The various debates and articles on the Slovenia’s national situation culminated in 1987 with the publication of the No. 57 issue of Nova revija which contained articles and elements of the Slovenian national programme. The basic premise of all the articles was that the Slovenian people should be transformed into a nation in the proper sense of the word, which also meant it should have its own state, based on original sovereignty, and on the principle of original sovereignty a new relationship with Yugoslavia should be formed. The authors also demanded the introduction of political pluralism and the abolition of the special privileged role of ‘guardian’ enjoyed by the Communist Party. At first, the national authorities condemned the No. 57 issue of Nova revija and organised numerous debates directed against it, but they did not prohibit it or act against the authors, nor did they allow any interference by the Federal Attorney General or adverse legal action. Regardless of the harsh evaluation of the situation by the opposition, democratisation in Slovenia had indeed reached a level whereby the right to freedom of expression was becoming recognised as a civic freedom.
Starting in 1987, when debates on amendments to the Yugoslav constitution began, a constitutional alternative was formed in Slovenia (the so-called ‘Zbor za ustavo’ or ‘Constitutional Assembly’) that went on to draft a proposal for the new Slovenian constitution.
Text: dr. Božo Repe