Freedom in the World
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Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Slovenia's civil liberties rating improved from 2 to 1 due to legislation satisfying European Union membership requirements, including an employment bill banning any form of discrimination, and legislation giving increased rights to foreigners with permanent resident status.
In 2002, Slovenia achieved its two most important foreign policy goals: in October, Slovenia was invited to join the EU, and in November it received an invitation to join NATO, thus becoming the first of the former Yugoslav republics to enter either organization. The territory now comprising Slovenia was part of the Hapsburg Empire from 1335 to 1918. At the end of World War I, Slovenia became a part of the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, and after World War II it became a constituent republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1990 Slovenia held its first postwar multiparty democratic elections, in which the Democratic United Opposition (DEMOS) secured victory. Voters also elected former Communist leader Milan Kucan president. Kucan was reelected president in Slovenia's first postindependence elections in 1992, and again in 1996.
Slovenian society has enjoyed remarkable consensus in the postindependence period in comparison with the other former Yugoslav republics. Popular agreement on the general outlines of what Slovenian foreign and domestic policy should be has focused on entering European and trans-Atlantic organizations, and maintaining a social-democratic model domestically. For most of the postindependence period, Slovenia has been ruled by center-left governments whose most important component has been Janez Drnovsek's Liberal Democratic Party (LDS).
Presidential elections held in Slovenia in November and December were the first in the postindependence period in which one of the most long-lived politicians in Eastern Europe, Milan Kucan, was not running. Kucan, whose political career dated back to the Titoist period, had successfully transformed himself from a Communist functionary in the 1980s, to a nationalist politician at the end of the decade, to a statesman guiding his country toward the EU and NATO in the 1990s.
In the first round of presidential elections, held in November, Drnovsek gained 44.3 percent of the vote, comfortably outdistancing his nearest rival, Slovenian state prosecutor, but political newcomer, Barbara Brezigar of the Social Democratic Party (SDS), who gained 30.7 percent. In the second-round runoff, Brezigar gained surprisingly strong support, winning 43 percent of the vote, although that was not enough to beat Drnovsek's 56 percent.
Slovenia is a parliamentary democracy with independent legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. Government officials respect the separation of powers enshrined in the Slovenian constitution. Institutions function smoothly, and the political opposition to the government plays a constructive, cooperative role in public policy making. Important legislation on civil service reform adopted in June established a framework for a professional, impartial, and accountable civil service.
Voters can change their government under a system of universal, equal, and direct suffrage. They elect the president and members of the 90-seat National Assembly. Parliament chooses the prime minister. The 40-seat National Council, a largely advisory body, represents professional groups and local interests.
The several sets of elections held in Slovenia in 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2002 have been considered free and fair. Seventy-one percent of the electorate turned out to vote in the first round of presidential election in November, and 65 percent for the second round in December.
According to the EU, the Slovenian judiciary enjoys "a high degree of independence." The Slovenian judiciary consists of the Supreme Court, an administrative court, regional and district courts, and an appeals court. There is also a constitutional court. The constitution guarantees individuals due process, equality before the law, and a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The main problem facing the Slovenian judicial system is the large backlog of cases. As of the end of 2001, the backlog consisted of some 298,000 cases.
According to the Slovenian constitution, Slovenian citizens enjoy all the recognized personal rights and freedoms, including the freedom to travel and to choose their place of residence; the right to privacy; the right to health care and social security; the freedom to work; and the right to own private property. The constitution provides special protection for marriage, the family, and children. It defines specific rights and obligations for parents.
The government respects the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and of the press. Insulting public officials, however, is prohibited by law. Most print media outlets are privately owned and support themselves with advertising revenues. Some electronic media outlets, such as Slovenia Radio-Television (RTV), remain state owned. RTV has three radio stations and two television networks.
The constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and religion. More than 70 percent of the population is Roman Catholic. For the past several years, there have been controversies regarding the continuous refusal of Ljubljana municipal authorities to allow the Muslim community in the capital to build a mosque.
Slovenia's treatment of ethnic minorities is generally considered to be good. Incitement to racial hatred in Slovenia is prohibited under the Criminal Code. Slovenia's constitution entitles Italian and Hungarian ethnic communities to one deputy each in the National Assembly. There have been, however, persistent reports of police harassment of Roma (Gypsies) and of residents from other former Yugoslav republics, the so-called new minorities. International watchdog groups report some governmental and societal discrimination against Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Kosovo Albanians, and Roma now living in Slovenia.
The government respects the right of individuals to assemble peacefully, to form associations, to participate in public affairs, and to submit petitions. Military and police personnel may not join political parties. Workers enjoy the right to establish and join trade unions, to strike, and to bargain collectively.
Women enjoy the same constitutional rights and freedoms as men under the law. Domestic violence remains a concern, and traditional social norms expect women to do housework even when they are employed outside the home. In recent years, along with the rest of the region, Slovenia has had problems with human trafficking and has become both a transit country and a country of destination for women and girls trafficked from other parts of Eastern Europe for purposes of prostitution.