Decision on independence plebiscite taken 30 years ago

Ljubljana – At a secret meeting on 9-10 November 1990, the deputy group of the ruling DEMOS coalition, elected in the first multi-party seven months earlier, took a decision to hold a referendum on Slovenia’s independence. The vote was held six weeks later.

At the meeting in Poljče, a centre for defence training in the north-west, three members of a constitutional commission, philosopher Tine Hribar and jurists Peter Jambrek and Tone Jerovšek, joined forces with DEMOS leader Jože Pučnik to convince the MPs to back the referendum idea.

The then opposition, dominated by the reformed Communists, wanted the plebiscite to be held in the spring of 1991, but eventually accepted the December 1990 date. DEMOS meanwhile agreed to a provision that an absolute majority of all eligible votes be required to declare independence.

But the election outcome of the 23 December 1990 plebiscite substantially exceeded the 50% threshold; 93.4% of all eligible voters cast their votes, of whom 95% opted for independence, which translated into 88.5% of all eligible voters in the then socialist Yugoslav republic of Slovenia.

The legal basis for the plebiscite was a law on the plebiscite on Slovenia’s independence, which was passed by parliament three weeks before the vote.

The plebiscite result was declared on 26 December 1990, which is now celebrated as Independence and Unity Day, a public holiday.

Based on the overwhelming referendum support, the DEMOS government launched preparations to declare independence.

Six months after the vote, on 25 June 1991, the parliament passed the constitutional charter declaring Slovenia’s independence from Yugoslavia.