At the end of March 1989, a general election with multiple candidates for president of the presidency of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was held, albeit still organised by the Socialist Association of the Working People. The outcome was that the surprise winner, running against Marko Bulc, the government’s official candidate, was one Janez Drnovšek, a relatively unknown public figure at the time.
In order to ensure increased sovereignty for the Republic, the Slovenian assembly adopted several amendments in September 1989. The Slovenian constitutional amendments were met by extreme opposition from the federal authorities and the leadership of the Yugoslav Communist Party, going to great lengths to prevent implementation. The YPA again threatened to declare a state of emergency. The authorities were especially critical of the amendments addressing the right to autonomous decision-making by the individual republics (although this right was included in all Slovenian and Yugoslav constitutions from 1946 onwards).
The Slovenian political scene diversified in the late autumn of 1989.
On 12 May 1988, the Slovene Farmers’ Alliance (SKZ) was established in Ljubljana, based on the Slovene Association of Cooperatives, and proclaiming itself a professional organisation. On 11 January 1989, the Slovene Democratic Alliance (SDZ), primarily a party of people working in culture and the arts, was established. On 16 February 1989, the Social Democrat Alliance of Slovenia was established, emerging from an independent union movement. In December 1987, France Tomšič founded the first independent union following a strike of Litostroj workers. The Christian social movement around the 2000 magazine grew in strength, and on 10 March, some of its followers disaffiliated from it and established their own party, the Slovene Christian Democrats. On 11 June, the Greens of Slovenia was founded, and later some other smaller alliances or parties.
Because of the constitution, the first alliances operated within the framework of the Socialist Alliance of Working People, but the passage of new election legislation in December 1989 allowed also for independent registrations. The former socio-political organisations were also transformed into parties. The League of Communists of Slovenia (ZKS), which won the majority of votes of any party in the elections, became the Party of Democratic Renewal (later the Social Democratic Party); the League of Socialist Youth of Slovenia became the Liberal Party, and the Socialist Alliance of the Working People became the Socialist Party.
A meeting at Cankarjev dom failed to produce an agreement between the government and the opposition on a common national programme, which is why, at the end of spring, two documents were drawn up: the May Declaration and the Fundamental Charter. The latter still sought a solution within the framework of the Yugoslav Federation, and advocated self-government. The May Declaration demanded independence of Slovenia and, only thereafter, possible links with other republics. It also demanded a multi-party system. The competition among supporters of the two documents was evident and many signed both. In the autumn, they tried to agree on an election during a so-called panel discussion organised by the Socialist Alliance of Working People, which also failed. The result was that the election legislation was passed by the National Assembly, while the opposition combined to form the Demos coalition.
Text: dr. Božo Repe