Why is Slovenia important to the EU

Slovenia and Portugal

Jernej Pikalo

To person

Dr. phil., born 1975; Lecturer in Political Theory, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Kardeljeva ploscad 5, 1000 Ljubljana / Slovenia.
Email: [email protected]

With its accession to the EU, Slovenia experienced a renewal of all areas of life. The 2004 European elections taught that it is not enough just to "go with the flow" in the EU.


The accession of Slovenia to the European Union (EU) on May 1, 2004 marked the end of the so-called "transition period" for the northernmost republic of the former Yugoslavia and at the same time represented the climax of the efforts that had been made in various areas of society over the previous 13 years were to pave the way for a - it was hoped - new and different approach to politics. It seemed as if the little Alpine republic was about to open a new chapter in its history. In the 13 years since gaining independence in 1991, Slovenian society had undergone far-reaching and profound changes. These were by no means the only drastic changes in the past century, and yet the feeling prevailed that they shaped the present and at least a number of future generations and represented the event of their political life.

This article traces these changes against the background of the main factors shaping Slovenia's political life within the EU. He first outlines the country's political culture and landscape, because traditional political behavioral patterns are still pronounced and essential for understanding the present. Slovenia enforced its independence against Yugoslavia in order to swap membership in one association for membership in another, precisely that in the EU. The article traces the path of Slovenia into the EU and analyzes the elections to the European Parliament in 2004, the most "European" political event in Slovenia to date.

In the second half of the eighties and the beginning of the nineties the pluralization and democratization of political life in Slovenia took place, the result of which was the introduction of the multiparty system. The maximum number of 124 parties has been reduced to 38, which are currently listed in the state register. The number of parties competing for a seat in the National Assembly has also decreased: 15 parties took part in the 1990 election, 33 in 1992, 22 in 1996 and 23 in 2000. In 1990, nine parties made it into Parliament, eight in 1992, seven in 1996, eight in 2000 despite the increased threshold and seven in 2004. With the consolidation of democracy, the number of parties has decreased further and is likely to decrease further, since the remaining parties, with the exception of a few extra-parliamentary groups, seem to have enjoyed a more or less limited political life.