Slovenian Democratic Party
|Founded||16 February 1989|
|European affiliation||European People's Party|
Centrist Democrat International,|
International Democrat Union
|European Parliament group||European People's Party|
|Colours||Yellow and blue|
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The Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovene: Slovenska demokratska stranka, SDS) is liberal-conservative political party in Slovenia. In 2003, it changed its name from the Social Democratic Party of Slovenia (Socialdemokratska stranka Slovenije). Led by Janez Janša, 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 merger 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 Democratic Opposition of Slovenia (DEMOS) coalition which defeated the former Communist Party of Slovenia in the first free Slovenian elections on 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. Tomšič 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 social-democratic party, which combined the plea for a social market economy with the support of a welfare state based on a German, Austrian and Scandinavian social 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 (DSS), while the conservative faction founded the National Democratic Party (NDS). 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 (LDS) and entered the cabinet of Janez Drnovšek.
The radical populist turn
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 meantime 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 (EPP), adopting a liberal economic policy and later pro-austerity measures upon the late-2000 economic crisis, while retaining an atlantist foreign policy.
2004–2008: In power
On 3 October 2004, the SDS won the 2004 parliamentary election with 29.1% of the popular vote and 29 out of 88 seats. The SDS then formed a coalition with New Slovenia (NSi), the Slovenian People's Party (SLS), and Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia (DeSUS), the first Janša cabinet.
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 DeSUS - 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 2008 parliamentary election held on 21 September 2008, the SDS gained in popular support, but narrowly lost against the Social Democrats, until then the main opposition party. It 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 the 2009 European elections, 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 2009, the MP Franc Pukšič left the Slovenian Democratic Party and joined the Slovenian People's Party; the SDS parliamentary group was thus reduced from 28 to 27 MPs.
On 4 December 2011, at the 2011 parliamentary election the SDS won 26.19% of the vote and gained 26 seats in the National Assembly, which made the SDS 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). However, the SDS were able to form a four-party coalition government, the second Janša cabinet, installed on 10 February 2012.
2012–2013: A year in power
After 2011, the SDS 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 centre-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.
2013–: Return to opposition
On 20 March 2013, the second Janša cabinet was replaced as the government of Slovenia by the cabinet of Alenka Bratušek, a four-party centre-left coalition led by the current leader of Positive Slovenia, Alenka Bratušek.
The party received 20.69% of the vote in the Slovenian parliamentary election on 13 July 2014, and won 21 seats in parliament. The party remained in opposition, this time to the cabinet of Miro Cerar.
Shadow Cabinet formation
In July 2015 Slovenian Democratic Party, as the biggest party of the official opposition, formed The Shadow Cabinet, which is actually a party structure. Members of the Shadow Cabinet are:
- President: Janez Janša (former Prime Minister, former Minister of Defence, President of the Slovenian Democratoc Party, MP)
- Finance: Andrej Šircelj MSc (former State Secretary, MP)
- Justice: Vinko Gorenak PhD (former Minister of Interior, MP)
- Foreign Affairs: Milan Zver PhD (former Minister of Education, MEP)
- Economical Development and Technology: Andrej Vizjak MSc (former Minister of Economy, former Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs, former MP)
- Labour, Family and Social Affairs: Romana Tomc (former State Secretary, former MP, MEP)
- Education, Science and Sport: Borut Rončević PhD (university professor)
- Culture: Vasko SImoniti PhD (former Minister of Culture, university professor)
- Defence: Aleš Hojs (former Minister of Defence)
- Infrastructure and Spatial Planning: Zvonko Černač (former Minister of Infrastructure, former MP, Vice-president of the Slovenian Democratic Party)
- Agriculture and Environment: Matjaž Kočar (former State Secretary)
- Interior: Božo Predalič PhD (former Secretary-General of the Government)
- Public Administration: Fidel Krupič MSc
- Health: Alenka Forte
- Slovenians Abroad and Slovenians in Neighbouring Countries: Miro Petek (former MP)
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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.
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, 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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