Democratic Consolidation in Eastern Europe - Vol. 1

By Jan Zielonka | Go to book overview

14 Slovenia: From Elite Consensus to Democratic Consolidation

Miro Cerar

The Slovene transition from communism was characterized by two specific features. First, it was inextricably connected to the process of state-building, since Slovenia's break from communism also meant a break from Yugoslavia. Second, the transition itself did not follow a very radical course since in the 1980s Slovenia had already undergone substantial reforms which brought about a relatively high level of economic development and openness towards the West. Thus, unlike other post-communist countries, which generally began their transition in a state of conflict with radical communism and in poor economic circumstances, Slovenia's elites peacefully arrived at a consensus on almost all of the pressing issues involved in democracy and state-building.

Because Slovenia had no real tradition of statehood or experience with state-building, the establishment of a new constitutional structure was immensely important both as a foundation for a new political and economic system and as the country's 'calling card' for entry into the international community. But the relatively quick and consensual adoption of the new Constitution after independence was followed by a period of slower reform and heightened political tension. Certain unresolved issues were left for the parliament to decide after the Constitution's adoption. As political party competition became greater, issues that were left unresolved during the initial period of transition, such as the structure of local government, privatization, and communist lustration, began to hamper the legislative process. But, at the same time, this development shows that the process of democratic consolidation, which was initiated by a relatively exclusive, elite group, has now widened the scope of political participation. Political parties compete without calling into question the basic constitutional institutions, the interpretation of the Constitution (primarily by the Constitutional

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