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ARCHIVALIA OF THE MONTH (DECEMBER 2011)

 

 

Constitution of the People's Republic of Slovenia

Ljubljana, January 16, 1947

 

Printed, bound in brown leather, 32 pp.

 

Reference code: SI AS 1115, Assembly of Slovenia, technical unit 239

 

December 23 marks the 20th anniversary of the adaptation of the first constitution of the independent Republic of Slovenia. Constitution is the fundamental act and the highest legal regulation that defines the principles and forms of political, economic and social organization of a country.

 

Slovenia got her first constitution on January 16, 1947. It was based almost entirely on the Constitution of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, which was adopted on January 31, 1946 and which had been modelled upon the Soviet constitution of 1936. Its primary aim was to enact and strengthen the new social order and give effect to the new social-economic relations. Edvard Kardelj, one of the authors of this Federal Constitution of 1946, particularly stressed the fact that people’s government was the foundation stone of the new government. The constitution included three principal definitions; the revolutionary changes in government and property and new relations among the peoples of Yugoslavia.

 

In Slovenia, the preparation for the adaptation of the constitution began after the members of the Constituent Assembly of the People’s Republic of Slovenia (PRS) had been elected on October 27, 1946. On November 20, 1946, Slovenian Constituent Assembly elected 19 members for the Slovenian Constituent Committee, lead by Viktor Avbelj. During eight of the committee’s sessions, the members discussed the only proposition which had been prepared and submitted by the Government of the PRS. Slightly corrected proposition was then in the form of a report submitted to the Constituent Assembly to be discussed. It is evident from the minutes that the discussion about the report began on January 14, 1947. After a three-day discussion and a general agreement of the members regarding the proposition, dr. Ferdo Kozak, the president of the assembly, put a motion for direct voting by raising hands. 99 out of 120 members were present at that session and they were all in favour of confirming the constitution. After the vote, the Constituent Assembly of PRS issued a decree on the announcement of the Constitution of the PRS and the constitution thus came into force.  

 

In its first article the constitution defines Slovenia as “people’s state in the form of a republic”. Perhaps the best know and most commonly quoted provision is written in the constitution’s second article and that is the right of the Slovenian nation to “self-determination, including secession and the forming of union with other nations”. The supreme bodies of authority became the People’s Assembly of the PRS, which was in session twice each year and was elected for the period of four years, and the Presidium of the People’s Assembly of the PRS, which was a collective body, made up of members of the assembly. The highest executive and administrative body of state authority was the Government of the PRS, which was also made up of members of the People’s Assembly. The constitution enacted “the equality of women and men in all areas of state, economic and socio-political life”. Citizens were given a formal guarantee as to their “freedom of conscience and freedom of religious beliefs” and the church was separated from the state.

 

Ministries in the former Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia were, according to their competences, divided into federal, federal-republic and republic ministries. Foreign ministries, ministries for the people’s defence, transport, post, maritime affairs and foreign trade were under federal administration and were not mentioned in the Slovenian constitution. Federal-republic administration included ministries of finance, internal affairs, justice, industry and mining, trade and supply, agriculture and forestry, and buildings. Republic administration included only ministries of education, healthcare, social welfare and public utility, which in itself is a clear indication that the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia was a strict unitaristic state where republic constitutions played only a figurative role.

 

The constitution of the People’s Republic of Slovenia is made up of three parts, twelve chapters and 128 articles. Its first part includes basic principles about the People’s Republic of Slovenia, people’s authority, the rights of the nation and that of the people’s republic, socio-economic organization and the rights and obligations of the Slovenian citizens. The second part describes the nature of the state; relation between the republic and the federation, also described are the supreme bodies of state authority and administrative-territorial units, people’s court, public prosecutor’s office and the relations between the state authority bodies and the bodies of the state administration. The third part includes transitory and final provisions.

 

 

Literature:

- Fischer, Jasna et al. (ur.): Slovenska novejša zgodovina: od programa Zedinjena Slovenija do mednarodnega priznanja Republike Slovenije 1848–1992. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, Inštitut za novejšo zgodovino, 2005.

- Strobl, Marija - Kristan, Ivan - Ribičič, Ciril: Ustavno pravo SFR Jugoslavije. Ljubljana: Univerzum, 1981.

- Vodopivec, Peter - Kristan, Ivan: Ustava. Enciklopedija Slovenije (ur. M. Javornik), Zv. 14. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 2000, pp. 110–112.

- Vodušek Starič, Jera: Prevzem oblasti 1944–1946. Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba, 1992.

 

 

Vesna Gotovina