- History of Slovenia
History of Slovenia
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Noricum/Pannonia Slavic settlement of the Eastern Alps Samo's Realm Carantania Carniola Holy Roman Empire March of Carniola Windic March Illyrian Provinces Kingdom of Illyria Duchy of Carniola Drava Banovina Province of Ljubljana Socialist Republic of Slovenia Republic of Slovenia
The history of Slovenia chronicles the period of the Slovene territory from the 5th Century BC to the present times. In the Early Bronze Age, Proto-Illyrian tribes settled an area stretching from present-day Albania to the city of Trieste. The Holy Roman Empire controlled the land for nearly 1,000 years. Modern-day Slovenia gained its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, and is today a modern state and a member of the European Union and NATO.
The earliest signs of human settlement in present-day Slovenia were found in the Pekel cave in the Loza Woods near Orehek in Inner Carniola, where two stone tools approximately 250,000 years old were recovered. During the last glacial period, present-day Slovenia was inhabited by Neanderthals; the most famous Neanderthal archeological site in Slovenia is a cave close to the village of Šebrelje near Cerkno, where the Divje Babe flute, the oldest known musical instrument in the world was found in 1995. In the transition period between the Bronze age to the Iron age, the Urnfield culture flourished. Numerous archeological remains dating from the Hallstatt period have been found in Slovenia, with important settlements in Most na Soči, Vače, and Šentvid pri Stični. Novo Mesto in Lower Carniola, one of the most important archeological sites of the Hallstatt culture, has been nicknamed the "City of Situlas" after numerous situlas found in the area.
In the Iron Age, present-day Slovenia was inhabited by Illyrian and Celtic tribes until the 1st century BC, when the Romans conquered the region establishing the provinces of Pannonia and Noricum. What is now western Slovenia was included directly under Roman Italia as part of the X region Venetia et Histria. Important Roman towns located in present-day Slovenia included Emona, Celeia and Poetovio. Other important settlements were Nauportus, Neviodunum, Haliaetum, Atrans, and Stridon.
During the migration period, the region suffered invasions of many barbarian armies, due to its strategic position as the main passage from the Pannonian plain to the Italian peninsula. Rome finally abandoned the region at the end of the 4th century. Most cities were destroyed, while the remaining local population moved to the highland areas, establishing fortified towns. In the 5th century, the region was part of the Ostrogothic kingdom, and was later contested between the Ostrogoths, the Byzantine Empire and the Lombards.
The Middle Ages
The Slavic ancestors of present-day Slovenes settled in the East Alpine area at the end of the 6th century. Coming from two directions, North (via today's East Austria and Czech Republic), settling in the area of today's Carinthia and west Styria and South (via today's Slavonia), settling in the area of today's central Slovenia. This Slavic tribe, also known as the Alpine Slavs, was submitted to Avar rule before joining the Slavic chieftain Samo's Slavic tribal union in 623 AD. After Samo's death, the Slavs of Carniola (in present-day Slovenia) again fell to Avar rule, while the Slavs north of the Karavanke range (in present-day Austrian regions of Carinthia, Styria and East Tyrol) established the independent principality of Carantania. In 745, Carantania and the rest of Slavic-populated territories of present-day Slovenia, being pressured by newly consolidated Avar power, submitted to Bavarian overrule and were, together with the Duchy of Bavaria, incorporated into the Carolingian Empire, while Carantanians and other Slavs living in present Slovenia converted to Christianity.
Carantania retained its internal independence until 828 when the local princes, following the anti-Frankish rebellion of Ljudevit Posavski, were deposed and gradually replaced by a Germanic (primarily Bavarian) ascendancy. Under Emperor Arnulf of Carinthia, Carantania, now ruled by a mixed Bavarian-Slav nobility, shortly emerged as a regional power, but was destroyed by the Hungarian invasions in the late 9th century.
Carantania-Carinthia was established again as an autonomous administrative unit in 976, when Emperor Otto I, "the Great", after deposing the Duke of Bavaria, Henry II, "the Quarreller", split the lands held by him and made Carinthia the sixth duchy of the Holy Roman Empire, but old Carantania never developed into a unified realm. In the late 10th and beginning of 11th century, primarily because of the Hungarian threat, the south-eastern border region of the German Empire was organized into so called "marks", that became the core of the development of the historical Slovenian lands, the Carniola, the Styria and the western Goriška/Gorizia. The consolidation and formation of the historical Slovenian lands took place in a long period between 11th and 14th century being led by a number of important feudal families such as the Dukes of Spannheim, the Counts of Gorizia, the Counts of Celje and finally the House of Habsburg.
The first mentions of a common Slovene ethnic identity, transcending regional boundaries, date from the 16th century.
During the 14th century, most of the Slovene Lands passed under the Habsburg rule. In the 15th century, the Habsburg domination was challenged by the Counts of Celje, but by the end of the century the great majority of Slovene-inhabited territories were incorporated into the Habsburg Monarchy. Most Slovenes lived in the administrative region known as Inner Austria, forming the majority of the population of the Duchy of Carniola and the County of Gorizia and Gradisca, as well as of Lower Styria and southern Carinthia.
Early Modern Period
In the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation spread throughout the Slovene Lands. During this period, the first books in the Slovene language were written by the Protestant preacher Primož Trubar and his followers, establishing the base for the development of the standard Slovene language. In the second half of the 16th century, numerous books were printed in Slovene, including an integral translation of the Bible by Jurij Dalmatin. During the Counter-Reformation in the late 16th and 17th centuries, led by the bishop of Ljubljana Tomaž Hren and Seckau Martin Brenner, almost all Protestants were expelled from the Slovene Lands (with the exception of Prekmurje). Nevertheless, they left a strong legacy in the tradition of Slovene culture, which was partially incorporated in the Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 17th century. The old Slovene orthography, also known as Bohorič's Alphabet, which was developed by the Protestants in the 16th century and remained in use until mid-19th century, testified to the unbroken tradition of Slovene culture as established in the years of the Protestant Reformation.
Between the 15th and the 17th century, the Slovene Lands suffered many calamities. Many areas, especially in southern Slovenia, were devastated by the Ottoman-Habsburg Wars. Many flourishing towns, like Vipavski Križ and Kostanjevica na Krki, were completely destroyed by incursions of the Ottoman Army, and never recovered. The nobility of the Slovene-inhabited provinces had an important role in the fight against the Ottoman Empire. The Carniolan noblemen's army thus defeated the Ottomans in the Battle of Sisak of 1593, marking the end of the immediate Ottoman threat to the Slovene Lands, although sporadic Ottoman incursions continued well into the 17th century.
In the 16th and 17th century, the western Slovene regions became the battlefield of the wars between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Venetian Republic, most notably the War of Gradisca, which was largely fought in the Slovene Goriška region. Between late 15th and early 18th century, the Slovene lands also witnessed many peasant wars, most famous being the Carinthian peasant revolt of 1478, the Slovene peasant revolt of 1515, the Croatian-Slovenian peasant revolt of 1573, the Second Slovene peasant revolt of 1635, and the Tolmin peasant revolt of 1713.
Late 17th century was also marked by a vivid intellectual and artistic activity. Many Italian Baroque artists, mostly architects and musicians, settled in the Slovene Lands, and contributed greatly to the development of the local culture. Scientists like Johann Weikhard von Valvasor and Janez Gregor Thalnitscher contributed to the development of the scholarly activities. By the early 18th century, however, the region entered another period of stagnation, which was slowly overcome only by mid-18th century.
Age of Enlightenment to the national movement
Between early 18th century and early 19th century, the Slovene lands experienced a period of peace, with a moderate economic recovery starting from mid-18th century onward. The Adriatic city of Trieste was declared a free port in 1718, boosting the economic activity throughout the western parts of the Slovene Lands. The political, administrative and economic reforms of the Habsburg rulers Maria Theresa of Austria and Joseph II improved the economic situation of the peasantry, and were well received by the emerging bourgeoisie, which was however still weak.
In the late 18th century, a process of standardarization of Slovene language began, promoted by Carniolan clergymen like Marko Pohlin and Jurij Japelj. During the same period, peasant-writers began using and promoting the Slovene vernacular in the countryside. This popular movement, known as bukovniki, started among Carinthian Slovenes as part a wider revival of Slovene literature. The Slovene cultural tradition was strongly reinforced in the Enlightenment period in the 18th century by the endeavours of the Zois Circle. After two centuries of stagnation, Slovene literature emerged again, most notably in the works of the playwright Anton Tomaž Linhart and the poet Valentin Vodnik. However, German remained the main language of culture, administration and education well into the 19th century.
Between 1805 and 1813, Slovenia was part of the Illyrian Provinces, an autonomous province of the Napoleonic French Empire, the capital of which was established at Ljubljana. Although the French rule in the Illyrian Provinces was short-lived it significantly contributed to greater national self-confidence and awareness of freedoms. The French did not entirely abolish the feudal system, their rule familiarised in more detail the inhabitants of the Illyrian Provinces with the achievements of the French revolution and with contemporary bourgeois society. They introduced equality before the law, compulsory military service and a uniform tax system, and also abolished certain tax privileges, introduced modern administration, separated powers between the state and the Church, and nationalised the judiciary.
In August 1813, Austria declared war on France. Austrian troops led by General Franz Tomassich invaded the Illyrian Provinces. After this short French interim all Slovene Lands were, once again, included in the Austrian Empire. Slowly, a distinct Slovene national consciousness developed, and the quest for a political unification of all Slovenes became widespread. In the 1820s and 1840s, the interest in Slovene language and folklore grew enormously, with numerous philologists collecting folk songs and advancing the first steps towards a standardization of the language. A small number of Slovene activist, mostly from Styria and Carinthia, embraced the Illyrian movement that started in neighboring Croatia and aimed at uniting all South Slavic peoples. Pan-Slavic and Austro-Slavic ideas also gained importance. However, the intellectual circle around the philologist Matija Čop and the Romantic poet France Prešeren was influential in affirming the idea of Slovene linguistic and cultural individuality, refusing the idea of merging the Slovenes into a wider Slavic nation.
In 1848, a mass political and popular movement for the United Slovenia (Zedinjena Slovenija) emerged as part of the Spring of Nations movement within the Austrian Empire. Slovene activists demanded a unification of all Slovene-speaking territories in a unified and autonomous Slovene kingdom within the Austrian Empire. Although the project failed, it served as an almost undisputed platform of Slovene political activity in the following decades.
Clashing nationalisms in late 19th century
Between 1848 and 1918, numerous institutions (including theatres and publishing houses, as well as political, financial and cultural organisations) were founded in the so-called Slovene National Awakening. Despite their political and institutional fragmentation and lack of proper political representation, the Slovenes were able to establish a functioning national infrastructure.
With the introduction of a constitution granting civil and political liberties in the Austrian Empire in 1860, the Slovene national movement gained force. Despite its internal differentiation among the conservative Old Slovenes and the progressive Young Slovenes, the Slovene nationals defended similar programs, calling for a cultural and political autonomy of the Slovene people. In the late 1860s and early 1870s, a series of mass rallies called tabori, modeled on the Irish monster meetings, were organized in support of the United Slovenia program. These rallies, attended by thousands of people, proved the allegiance of wider strata of the Slovene population to the ideas of national emancipation.
By the end of the 19th century, Slovenes had established a standardized literary language, and a thriving civil society. Literacy levels were among the highest in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and numerous national associations were present at grassroots level. The idea of a common political entity of all South Slavs, known as Yugoslavia, emerged.
Since the 1880s, a fierce culture war between Catholic traditionalists and integralists on one side, and liberals, progressivists and anticlericals dominated Slovene political and public life, especially in Carniola. During the same period, the growth of industrialization intensified social tensions. Both Socialist and Christian socialist movements mobilized the masses. In 1905, the first Socialist mayor in the Austro-Hungarian Empire was elected in the Slovene mining town of Idrija on the list of the Yugoslav Social Democratic Party. In the same years, the Christian socialist activist Janez Evangelist Krek organized hundreds of workers and agricultural cooperatives throughout the Slovene countryside.
At the turn of the 20th century, national struggles in ethnically mixed areas (especially in Carinthia, Trieste and in Lower Styrian towns) dominated the political and social lives of the citizenry. By the 1910s, the national struggles between Slovene and Italian speakers in the Austrian Littoral, and Slovene and German speakers, overshadowed other political conflicts and brought about a nationalist radicalization on both sides.
In the last two decades before World War One, Slovene arts and literature experienced one of its most flourishing periods, with numerous talented modernist authors, painters and architects. The most important authors of this period were Ivan Cankar and Oton Župančič, while Ivan Grohar and Rihard Jakopič were among the most talented Slovene visual artists of the time.
After the Ljubljana earthquake of 1895, the city experienced a rapid modernization under the charismatic Liberal nationalist mayors Ivan Hribar and Ivan Tavčar. Architects like Max Fabiani and Ciril Metod Koch introduced their own version of the Vienna Secession architecture to Ljubljana. In the same period, the Adriatic port of Trieste became an increasingly important center of Slovene economy, culture and politics. By 1910, around a third of the city population was Slovene, and the number of Slovenes in Trieste was higher than in Ljubljana.
At the turn of the 20th century, hundreds of thousands of Slovenes emigrated to other countries, mostly to the United States, but also to South America, Germany, Egypt, and to larger cities in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, especially Zagreb and Vienna. It has been calculated that around 300,000 Slovenes emigrated between 1880 and 1910, which means that one in six Slovenes left their homeland. Such disproportionally high emigration rates resulted in a relatively small population growth in the Slovene Lands. Comparatively to other Central European regions, the Slovene Lands lost demographic weight between the late 18th and early 20th century.
World War One and the Creation of Yugoslavia
After the outbreak of World War I, the Austrian Parliament was dissolved and civil liberties suspended. Many Slovene political activists, especially in Carniola and Styria, were imprisoned by Austro-Hungarian authorities on charges of pro-Serbian or pan-slavic sympathies. 469 Slovenes were executed on charges of treason in the first year of the war alone, provoking a strong anti-Austrian resentment among the national-minded strata of the Slovene population. Hundreds of thousands of Slovene conscripts were drafted in the Austro-Hungarian Army, and over 30,000 of them lost their lives in the course of the war.
In May 1915, the fighting started on Slovene soil, as well. Italy entered the conflict after the western allies had supported its territorial expansion at the expense of Austria-Hungary. In the Treaty of London of 1915, the Slovenian Littoral and some western districts of Carniola were promised to Italy after the war. The Italian Royal Army launched an attack on Austria-Hungary in 1915, thus opening the Italian front. Some of the fiercest battles were fought along the Soča (Isonzo) river and on the Kras (Carso) plateau in what is now western Slovenia. Entire areas of the Slovenian Littoral were destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of Slovenes were resettled as refugees in parts of Austria and Italy. While the situation in the Austrian refugee camps were relatively good, Slovene refugees in Italian camps were treated as state enemies, and several thousands died of malnutrition and diseases between 1915 and 1918.
In 1917, after the Battle of Caporetto ended the fighting on Austro-Hungarian (Slovenian) soil, the political life in Austria-Hungary resumed. The Slovene People's Party launched a movement for self-determination, demanding the creation of a semi-independent South Slavic state under Habsburg rule. The proposal was picked up by most Slovene parties, and a mass mobilization of Slovene civil society, known as the Declaration Movement, followed. By early 1918, more than 200,000 signatures were collected in favor of the Slovene People Party's proposal.
During the War, some 500 Slovenes served as volunteers in the Serbian army, while a smaller group led by Captain Ljudevit Pivko, served as volunteers in the Italian Army. In the final year of the war, many predominantly Slovene regiments in the Austro-Hungarian Army staged a mutiny against their military leadership; the most famous mutiny of Slovene soldiers was the Judenburg Rebellion in May 1918.
With the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in October 1918, the Slovenes formed the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, which soon merged with Serbia and Montenegro into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The western parts of the Slovene Lands (the Slovenian Littoral and western districts of Inner Carniola) were occupied by the Italian Army, and officially annexed to the Kingdom of Italy with the Treaty of Rapallo in 1920.
After the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in late 1918, an armed dispute started between the Slovenes and German Austria for the regions of Lower Styria and southern Carinthia. In November 1918, Rudolf Maister seized the city of Maribor and surrounding areas of Lower Styria in the name of the newly formed Yugoslav state. Around the same time a group of volunteers led by Franjo Malgaj attempted to take control of southern Carinthia. Fighting in Carinthia lasted between December 1918 and June 1919, when the Slovene volunteers and the regular Serbian Army managed to occupy the city of Klagenfurt. In compliance with the Treaty of Saint-Germain, the Yugoslav forces had to withdraw from Klagenfurt, while a referendum was to be held in other areas of southern Carinthia. In October 1920, the majority of the population of southern Carinthia voted to remain in Austria, and only a small portion of the province (around Dravograd and Guštanj) was awarded to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. With the Treaty of Trianon, however, Yugoslavia was awarded the Slovene-inhabited Prekmurje region, which had belonged to Hungary since the 10th century and had little contact with the rest of the Slovene lands.
The interwar period
In 1921, a centralist constitution was passed in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes against the vote of the great majority (70%) of Slovene MPs. Despite the centralist policies of the Yugoslav kingdom, Slovenes managed to maintain a high level of cultural autonomy, and both economy and the arts prospered. Slovene politicians participated in almost all Yugoslav governments, and the Slovene conservative leader Anton Korošec briefly served as the only non-Serbian Prime Minister of Yugoslavia in the period between the two world wars.
On the other hand, Slovenes in Italy, Austria and Hungary, became victims of State policies of forced assimilation and sometimes violent persecution. The Slovenian Littoral was annexed to Italy and included in the Julian March administrative region. Between 1918 and 1922, several violent actions were directed against the Slovene communities in Italy, both by the mob and by ultra-nationalist militias. After 1922, a policy of violent Fascist Italianization was implemented, triggering the reaction of local Slovenes and Istrian Croats. In 1927, the militant anti-Fascist organization TIGR (an acronym for the place-names Trieste, Istria, Gorizia, and Rijeka) was founded. Between 1922 and 1941, more than 70,000 Slovenes fled from the Italian Julian March, mostly to Yugoslavia, but also to Argentina and other South American countries.
In 1929, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was renamed to Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The constitution was abolished, civil liberties suspended, while the centralist pressure intensified. Slovenia was renamed to Drava Banovina. During the whole interwar period, Slovene voters strongly supported the conservative Slovene People's Party, which unsuccessfully fought for the autonomy of Slovenia within a federalized Yugoslavia. In 1935, however, the Slovene People's Party joined the pro-regime Yugoslav Radical Community, opening the space for the development of a left wing autonomist movement. In the 1930s, the economic crisis created a fertile ground for the rising of both leftist and rightist radicalisms. In 1937, the Communist Party of Slovenia was founded as an autonomous party within the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Between 1938 and 1941, left liberal, Christian left and agrarian forces established close relations with members of the illegal Communist party, aiming at establishing a broad anti-Fascist coalition.
After 1918, Slovenia became one of the main industrial centers of Yugoslavia. Already in 1919, the industrial production in Slovenia was four times greater than in Serbia, and twenty-two times greater than in Yugoslav Macedonia. The interwar period brought a further industrialization in Slovenia, with a rapid economic growth in the 1920s followed by a relatively successful economic adjustment to the 1929 economic crisis. This development however affected only certain areas, especially the Ljubljana Basin, the Zasavje region, parts of Slovenian Carinthia, and the urban areas around Celje and Maribor. Tourism experienced a period of great expansion, with resort areas like Bled and Rogaška Slatina gaining an international reputation. Elsewhere, agriculture and forestry remained the predominant economic activities. Nevertheless, Slovenia emerged as one of the most prosperous and economically dynamic areas in Yugoslavia, profiting from a large Balkanic market. Arts and literature also prospered, as did architecture. The two largest Slovenian cities, Ljubljana and Maribor, underwent an extensive program of urban renewal and modernization. Architects like Jože Plečnik, Ivan Vurnik and Vladimir Šubic introduced modernist architecture to Slovenia.
World War II
The Slovene territory – from 1929 Drava Banovina (Dravska banovina) – in Kingdom of Yugoslavia covered 15.036 km² and had, according to census in 1921, 1.054.919 inhabitants. After the Invasion by Axis forces on April 6, 1941 the Axis powers occupied this territory and divided it according to directives given by Hitler (on April 3 and 12, 1941) and an agreement between German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Italian foreign minister Conte Galeazzo Ciano that specified those directives in Vienna (April 21/22, 1941). The biggest part of Drava Banovina was occupied by the Germans – the Lower Styria (Spodnja Štajerska), the valley of Meža (Mießtal), Upper Carniola (Gorenjska) and a strip of land along the Sava river (Zasavje). Italians occupied Ljubljana, Inner Carniola (Notranjska), Lower Carniola (Dolenjska), White Carniola (Bela Krajina) and Hungary was given Prekmurje – except for four communities at the western part of the territory, that came to Germany. All three occupiers aimed at a quick formal annexation. The Italians passed the Autonomy-Statute for the so-called "Provincia di Lubiana" (Province of Ljubljana) on May 3, 1941, the Hungarians realized their formal annexation on December 16, 1941. The Germans who wanted to proclaim their formal annexation to the ”German Reich“ on October 1, 1941, postponed it first because of the installation of the new ”Gauleiter“ and ”Reichsstatthalter“ of Carinthia and later on they dropped the plan for an undefinite period of time because of partisans, with which the Germans wanted to deal first. Only Meža valley became part of ”Reichsgau Carinthia“ at once. Some villages in south-eastern Slovenia were annexed by the Independent State of Croatia.
While the Italians gave Slovenes a cultural autonomy within their occupation zone (the Province of Ljubljana), the Nazis started a policy of violent Germanisation, which culminated with the resettlement more than 83,000 Slovenes to other parts of the Third Reich, as well as to Serbia and Croatia. More than 63,000 Slovenes were interned to Nazi concentration camps.
Already in the summer of 1941, a liberation movement under the Communist leadership emerged both in the Italian and German occupation zone. Due to political assassinations carried out by the Communist squads, as well as the pre-existing radical anti-Communism of the conservative circles of the Slovenian society, a civil war between Slovenes broke out in the Italian-occupied south-eastern Slovenia (known as Province of Ljubljana) in the summer of 1942. The two fighting factions were the Liberation Front of the Slovenian People and the Italian-sponsored anti-communist militia, known as the White Guard, initially formed by local anti-Communist activists in order to protect villages from partisans' incursions. A small Monarchist resistance (known as Chetniks) also existed. After September 1943, the anti-Communist militias was re-organized under Nazi command as the Slovene Home Guard.
The Slovene partisan guerrillas managed to liberate large portions of the Slovene lands, contributing to the defeat of Nazism. As a result of the war the vast majority of the native ethnic German population were either forcefully expelled or fled to neighboring Austria. Immediately after the war, some 12,000 members of the Slovene Home Guard were killed in the area of the Kočevski Rog, while thousands of anti-communist civilians were killed in the first year after the war, many of them in concentration camps of Teharje and Sterntal.
These massacres were silenced, and remained a taboo topic until the late 1970s and early 1980s, when dissident intellectuals brought it to public discussion. In addition, hundreds (some say thousands) of ethnic Italians from Istria and Trieste were killed by the Yugoslav Army and partisan forces in the Foibe massacres, while some 27,000 of them fled Slovenia from Communist persecution in the so-called Istrian exodus. The overall number of World War Two casualties in Slovenia is estimated to 89,000, while 14,000 people were killed immediately after the end of the war. The overall number of World War II casualties in Slovenia was thus of around 7.2% of the pre-war population, which is above the Yugoslav average, and among the highest percentages in Europe.
The Communist period
Following the re-establishment of Yugoslavia at the end of World War II, Slovenia became part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, declared on 29 November 1943. A socialist state was established, but because of the Tito-Stalin split, economic and personal freedoms were broader than in the Eastern Bloc. In 1947, Italy ceded most of the Julian March to Yugoslavia, and Slovenia thus regained the Slovenian Littoral.
The dispute over the port of Trieste however remained opened until 1954, until the short-lived Free Territory of Trieste was divided among Italy and Yugoslavia, thus giving Slovenia access to the sea. This division was ratified only in 1975 with the Treaty of Osimo, which gave a final legal sanction to Slovenia's long disputed western border. From the 1950s, the Socialist Republic of Slovenia enjoyed a relatively wide autonomy.
Between 1945 and 1948, a wave of political repressions took place in Slovenia and in Yugoslavia. Thousands of people were imprisoned for their political beliefs. Several tens of thousands of Slovenes left Slovenia immediately after the war in fear of Communist persecution. Many of them settled in Argentina, which became the core of Slovenian anti-Communist emigration. More than 50,000 more followed in the next decade, frequently for economic reasons, as well as political ones. These later waves of Slovene immigrants mostly settled in Canada and in Australia, but also in other western countries.
In 1948, the Tito-Stalin split took place. In the first years following the split, the political repression worsened, as it extended to Communists accused of Stalinism. Hundreds of Slovenes were imprisoned in the concentration camp of Goli Otok, together with thousands of people of other nationalities. Among the show trials that took place in Slovenia between 1945 and 1950, the most important were the Nagode trial against democratic intellectuals and left liberal activists (1946) and the Dachau trials (1947–1949), where former inmates of Nazi concentration camps were accused of collaboration with the Nazis. Many members of the Roman Catholic clergy suffered persecution. The case of bishop of Ljubljana Anton Vovk, who was doused with gasoline and set on fire by Communist activists during a pastoral visit to Novo Mesto in January 1952, echoed in the western press.
Between 1949 and 1953, a forced collectivization was attempted. After its failure, a policy of gradual liberalization was followed. A new economic policy, known as workers self-management started to be implemented under the advice and supervision of the main theorist of the Yugoslav Communist Party, the Slovene Edvard Kardelj.
In the late 1950s, Slovenia was the first of the Yugoslav republics to begin a process of relative pluralization. A decade of fervent cultural and literary production followed, with many tensions between the regime and the dissident intellectuals. By the late 1960s, the reformist faction gained control of the Slovenian Communist Party, launching a series of reforms, aiming at the modernization of Slovenian society and economy. In 1973, this trend was stopped by the conservative faction of the Slovenian Communist Party, backed by the Yugoslav Federal government. A period known as the "years of lead" (Slovene: svinčena leta) followed.
From the late 1950s onward, dissident circles started to be formed, mostly around short-lived independent journals, such as Revija 57 (1957–1958), which was the first independent intellectual journal in Yugoslavia and one of the first of this kind in the Communist bloc, and Perspektive (1960–1964). Among the most important critical public intellectuals in this period were the sociologist Jože Pučnik, the poet Edvard Kocbek, and the literary historian Dušan Pirjevec.
In the 1980s, Slovenia experienced a rise of cultural pluralism. Numerous grass-roots political, artistic and intellectual movements emerged, including the Neue Slowenische Kunst, the Ljubljana school of psychoanalysis, and the Nova revija intellectual circle. By the mid 1980s, a reformist fraction, led by Milan Kučan, took control of the Slovenian Communist Party, starting a gradual reform towards a market socialism and controlled political pluralism.
The Yugoslav economic crisis of the 1980s increased the struggles within the Yugoslav Communist regime regarding the appropriate economic measures to be undertaken. Slovenia, which had less than 10% of overall Yugoslav population, produced around a fifth of the country's GDP and a fourth of all Yugoslav exports. The political disputes around economic measures was echoed in the public sentiment, as many Slovenes felt they were being economically exploited, having to sustain an expensive and inefficient federal administration.
Slovenian Spring of 1988
In 1987 and 1988, a series of clashes between the emerging civil society and the Communist regime culminated with the Slovenian Spring. A mass democratic movement, coordinated by the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, pushed the Communists in the direction of democratic reforms. These revolutionary events in Slovenia pre-dated by almost one year the Revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe, but went largely unnoticed by international observers.
At the same time, the confrontation between the Slovenian Communists and the Serbian Communist Party, dominated by the charismatic nationalist leader Slobodan Milošević, became the most important political struggle in Yugoslavia. The poor economic performance of the Federation, and rising clashes between the different republics, created a fertile soil for the rise of secessionist ideas among Slovenes, both anti-Communists and Communists. On 27 of September 1989 the Slovenian Assembly made many amendments to the 1974 constitution including the abandonment of the League of Communists of Slovenia monopoly on political power and the right of Slovenia to leave Yugoslavia. On 23 January 1990, the League of Communists of Slovenia, in protest against the domination of the Serb nationalist leadership, walked out of the 14th Congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia which effectively ceased to exist as a national party - they were followed soon after by the League of Communists of Croatia. On 7 March 1990 the Slovenian Assembly changed the official name of the state to the Republic of Slovenia dropping the word 'Socialist'.
Democracy and independence
Kučan Presidency (1990-2002)
The DEMOS government(1990-1992)
On 30 December 1989 Slovenia officially opened the spring 1990 elections to opposition parties thus inaugurating multi-party democracy. The Democratic Opposition of Slovenia (DEMOS) coalition of democratic political parties was created by an agreement between the Slovenian Democratic Union, the Social Democrat Alliance of Slovenia, the Slovene Christian Democrats, the Farmers' Alliance and the Greens of Slovenia. The leader of the coalition was the famous dissident Jože Pučnik.
In 8 April 1990, the first free multiparty parliamentary elections, and the first round of the Presidential elections, were held. DEMOS defeated the former Communist party in the parliamentary elections, by gathering 54% of the votes. A coalition government led by the Christian Democrat Lojze Peterle was formed, and began economic and political reforms that established a market economy and a liberal democratic political system. At the same time, the government pursued the independence of Slovenia from Yugoslavia.
Milan Kučan was elected President in the second round of the Presidential elections on 22 Apr 1990, defeating the DEMOS candidate Jože Pučnik. Kučan strongly opposed the preservation of Yugoslavia through violent means. After the concept of a loose confederation had failed to gain support by the republics of Yugoslavia, Kučan favoured a controlled process of non-violent disassociation that would enable the collaboration of the former Yugoslav nations on a new, different basis.
On 23 December 1990, a referendum on the independence of Slovenia was held, in which the overwhelming majority of Slovenian residents (around 89%) voted for the independence of Slovenia from Yugoslavia. Slovenia became independent through the passage of the appropriate acts on 25 June 1991. In the morning of the next day, a short Ten-Day War began, in which the Slovenian forces successfully rejected Yugoslav military interference. In the evening, the independence was solemnly proclaimed in Ljubljana by the Speaker of the Parliament France Bučar. The Ten-Day War lasted till 7 July 1991, when the Brijuni Agreement was made, with the European Community as a mediator, and the Yugoslav National Army started its withdrawal from Slovenia. On 26 October 1991, the last Yugoslav soldier left Slovenia.
On 23 December 1991 the Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia passed a new Constitution, which became the first Constitution of independent Slovenia 
Kučan represented Slovenia at the peace conference on former Yugoslavia in the Hague and Brussels which concluded that the former Yugoslav nations were free to determine their future as independent states. On May 22, 1992 Kučan represented Slovenia as it became a new member of the United Nations.
The most important achievement of the Coalition, however, was the declaration of independence of Slovenia on 25 June 1991, followed by a Ten-Day War in which the Slovenians rejected Yugoslav military interference. As a result of internal disagreements the coalition fell apart in 1992. It was officially dissolved in April 1992 in agreement with all the parties that had composed it. Following the collapse of Lojze Peterle's government, a new coalition government, led by Janez Drnovšek was formed, which included several parties of the former DEMOS. Jože Pučnik became vice-president in Drnovšek's cabinet, guaranteeing some continuity in the government policies.
After the independence and the international recognition of Slovenia, Kučan was elected as the first President of Slovenia in the 1992 election with the support of the citizens list. He won another five-year term in the 1997 elections, running again as an independent and again winning the majority in the first round.
Drnovšek Premiership (1992-2002)
In 1992, after a Government crisis in the DEMOS coalition, which had won the first democratic elections in Slovenia in 1990 and led the country to independence, Drnovšek became the second Prime Minister of independent Slovenia. He was chosen as a compromise candidate and an expert in economic policy. His bi-partisan government was supported both by the left and centrist wing of the dissolved DEMOS coalition (the Social Democratic Party of Slovenia, the Democratic Party and the Greens of Slovenia) and by three parties that derived from organizations of the former Communist regime (the Liberal Democratic Party, the Party of Democratic Reform and the Socialist Party of Slovenia).
Shortly afterwards, Drnovšek was elected president of the Liberal Democratic Party (Liberalno demokratska stranka - LDS), the legal successor of the Association of Socialist Youth of Slovenia (Zveza socialistične mladine Slovenije - ZSMS), the youth fraction of the Communist Party of Slovenia.
The Liberal Democratic Party under Drnovšek's leadership won the 1992 parliamentary elections, but due to a high fragmentation of the popular vote had to ally itself with other parties in order to form a stable government. Despite a politically turbulent mandate (in 1994, the Social Democratic Party of Slovenia left the coalition), the Party gained votes in the 1996 elections, remaining the largest party in the government. Nevertheless, Drnovšek barely secured himself a third term in office after a failed attempt to ally himself with the Slovenian National Party. In 1997, the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia formed a coalition government with the populist Slovenian People's Party which finally enabled Drnovšek to serve a third term in office.
He headed the government until May 2000, when he stepped down due to disagreements with the Slovenian People's Party. After less than six months in opposition, Drnovšek returned to power in Autumn of 2000, after his party gained a clear victory in the parliamentary elections.
Drnovšek's governments guided Slovenia's political and economic reconstruction. He successfully tackled the twin tasks of reorienting Slovenia's trade away from the wreckage of the old Yugoslavia towards the West and replacing the ineffective Communist-era business model with more market-based mechanisms.
Unlike the other five former Yugoslav republics which were run for much of the 1990s by charismatic and frequently authoritarian presidents, Slovenia under Drnovšek's premiership quickly emerged from the break-up of the federation as a functioning parliamentary democracy. Drnovšek's political strategy was concentrated on broad coalitions, transcending idological and programmatic divisions between parties.
Drnovšek was a staunch supporter of Slovenia's entry in the European Union and NATO and was largely responsible for Slovenia's successful bid for membership in both of those organizations. As Prime minister, he was frequently active on foreign policy issues. On June 16, 2001, he helped to arrange the first meeting between George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin (Bush-Putin 2001).
Drnovšek Presidency (2002-2007); EU and NATO membership
In March 2003 Slovenia held two referendums on joining the EU and NATO. Milan Kučan took an active part in campaigning for these memberships, in order for Slovenia to achieve the goals it had set upon its independence. In May 2004, Slovenia became a full member of both the EU and NATO.
After 1990, a stable democratic system evolved, with economic liberalization and gradual growth of prosperity. Slovenia joined NATO on 29 March 2004 and the European Union on 1 May 2004. Slovenia was the first post-Communist country to hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, for the first six months of 2008.
Drnovšek's presidency was highly controversial. In the first three years in office, he rarely appeared in public, save for the most important official duties. In 2006, however, a change of style became visible. He launched several campaigns in foreign policy, such as a failed humanitarian mission to Darfur and a proposal for the solution of the political crisis in Kosovo. On January 30, 2006, he left the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia. Shortly afterwards, he founded the Movement for Justice and Development and became its first president. He claimed this was not meant to be a political movement, but rather a wide initiative, aiming to "raise human consciousness and make the world a better place". On June 26, 2006, he announced that he would not be running for a second term.
Janša premiership (2004-2008)
The 2004 legislative election brought further changes and a political swing to the right. Following the victory of the Slovenian Democratic Party and its allies, Janez Janša was appointed by President Drnovšek to form a new government on 3 November 2004. Six days later, he was elected Prime Minister of Slovenia by the National Assembly, polling the votes of 57 of the 90 members. His cabinet was approved by the Parliament on 3 December the same year. In Slovenia, this was the first time after 1992 that the President and the Prime Minister had represented opposing political factions for more than a few months.
The relationship between Drnovšek and the government quickly became tense. Disagreements began with Drnovšek's initiatives in foreign politics, aimed at solving major foreign conflicts, including those in Darfur and Kosovo. Initially, these initiatives were initially not openly opposed by the Prime Minister, but were criticized by the foreign minister Dimitrij Rupel, Drnovšek's former collaborator and close political ally until 2004. A major clash between the two happened in Summer 2006, when disagreement arose over Drnovšek's attempt to intervene in the Darfur conflict. The disagreements moved from issues of domestic politics in October 2006, when Drnovšek publicly criticised the treatment of the Strojans, a Roma family whose neighborhood had forced them to relocate, which in turn had subjected them to police supervision and limitation of movement. The disagreements however escalated when the parliamentary majority repeatedly rejected President's candidates for the Governor of the Bank of Slovenia, beginning with the rejection of incumbent Mitja Gaspari. The friction continued over the appointment of other state official nominees, including Constitutional Court judges. Although the President's political support suffered after his personal transformation, the polls nevertheless showed public backing of the President against an increasingly unpopular Government. The tension reached its height in May 2007, when the newly appointed director of the Slovenian Intelligence and Security Agency Matjaž Šinkovec unclassified several documents from the period before 2004, revealing, among other, that Drnovšek had used secret service funds for personal purposes between 2002 and 2004. The President reacted with a harsh criticism of the government's policies, accusing the ruling coalition of abusing its power for personal delegitimations and labeled the Prime Minister as "the leader of the negative guys"
In the last months in office, Drnovšek continued his attacks on Prime Minister Janez Janša, who mostly remained silent on the issue. Drnovšek accused Janša of "fostering proto-totalitarian tendencies". He became a blogger (Janez D), signing his posts as "Janez D" and expressing opinions on various issues from foreign policy, environmentalism, human relationships, religion, animal rights and personal growth. In his last months in office, he withdrew to a reclusive life again, devoting his time to the Movement for Justice and Development and the popularization of his lifestyle and views.
In 2006, Borut Pahor's Social Democrats, after having opted for a more constructive opposition, entered an agreement with the ruling coalition party for the collaboration in the economic reform policies. The agreement, known as Partnership for Development, eventually failed in 2008.
Due to the gradual dissolution of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia, by 2007 the Social Democrats became the second largest political force in Slovenia, and Pahor thus became the non-formal leader of the left wing opposition. The same year, he considered running for the presidential elections, in which he was favoured by the polls. However, due to the high ranking of his party, he decided to support the presidential candidate Danilo Türk, and continue to lead the Social Democrats to the parliamentary elections of 2008.
Türk Presidency (2007)
In June 2007 Danilo Türk accepted to run in the 2007 Slovenian presidential election. As an independent candidate, he was backed by a broad coalition of left wing parties, composed by the opposition Zares and Social Democrats, the Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia, as well as by the extra-parliamentary Christian Socialist and Democratic Party. In the first round of the presidential elections, held on 21 October 2007, he placed second with 24.54% of the votes, which brought him into the run-off against the centre right candidate Lojze Peterle who received 28.50% of the popular vote. He won the run-off on 11 November 2007 by a landslide, with 68.2% of the votes, becoming the third president of Slovenia on December 23, 2007.
Pahor premiership (2008)
In 2008, the Social Democrats made a coalition agreement with two other centre-left opposition parties, the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia and Zares. In the parliamentary elections of 2008, these parties defeated the Slovenian Democratic Party and formed a government headed by Pahor.
On September 1, 2008, some three weeks before the Slovenian parliamentary elections, allegations were made in Finnish TV in a documentary broadcast by the Finnish national broadcasting company YLE that Janša had received bribes from the Finnish defense company Patria (73.2% of which is the property of the Finnish government) in the so-called Patria case. Janša rejected all accusations as a media conspiracy concocted by left-wing Slovenian journalists, and asked YLE to provide evidence or to retract the story. Janša's naming of individual journalists, including some of those behind the 2007 Petition Against Political Pressure on Slovenian Journalists, and the perceived use of diplomatic channels in an attempt to coerce the Finnish government into interfering with YLE editorial policy, drew criticism from media freedom organisations such as the International Press Institute. As yet, YLE has declined to broadcast a retraction or to reveal its sources, because criminal investigation by the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation is still underway.
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- Sistory.si - an education and research portal of Slovene historiography.
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