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When asked what the 1990 plebiscite had done for the citizens of Slovenia, Slovenians replied: »The citizens of Slovenia got our own independent state«  


December 23, 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of the plebiscite on independent and autonomous state of the Republic of Slovenia. To celebrate this event of the utmost importance for the Slovenian history, the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia has prepared an exhibition. In addition to the actual exhibition, other cultural events will take place as part of year-long celebration in commemoration of the plebiscite. More about the celebrations on www.dvajset .si.


Authors of the exhibition: Alenka Starman and Vesna Gotovina

Project group: Jernej Križaj, Jasmina Kogovšek, Maja Povalej, Boštjan Smole, Gašper Šmid, Žarko Štrumbl

Authors of the catalogue: Alenka Starman and Jernej Križaj

Design of the exhibition and the catalogue: Futura DDB.

Mounting of the exhibition: RPS d.o.o.


The entire period of Slovenian struggle for independence is lengthy and immensely rich in events, which makes it difficult to objectively present it in its entirety. Also, most of the archives from that period are still kept by the records creators. That is why the authors decided that the exhibition should cover only a short period of time – from November 1990 to January 1991 – and be limited to plebiscite only.


In collecting and selecting the exhibition materials the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia collaborated with a number of institutions, such as the National Museum of Contemporary History, Slovene Etnographic Museum, National Museum of Slovenia, National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, Secretariat-General of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, Government Communication Office, State Electoral Commission,National and University Library in Ljubljana, Institute of Ethnomusicology of the Science Research Centre at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the RTV Slovenia. We managed to acquire some very valuable records – a real treasure of unpublished documents that the public will be able to view for the first time at the exhibition.


As general people’s vote and decision, plebiscite is a form of direct democracy. By means of the plebiscite the Slovenian nation and people of Slovenia for the first time made a decision on a crucial question of utmost importance – should the Republic of Slovenia become an independent and sovereign country. The turnout for the plebiscite was extremely high, 93 %, and the voting outcome was more than convincing. According to data of the Slovenian Electoral Commission88.5 % or 1,289.369 of the voters entered on the electoral roll said yes to the independent and sovereign country. The plebiscite was an expression of free will of Slovenian people about their future destiny. Only six months passed from the plebiscite decision to the proclamation of the Slovenian independence.


The exhibition aims to capture the moment of unity achieved among the Slovenian political parties, Slovenian nation and all Slovenian people to reach the common goal – to gain our independent and sovereign country. With the exhibition, we want to recall the memory of the positive mood of the people before, after and especially on the day of the plebiscite. We want to address the widest circle of people, especially the school population, in order to remind them of their fathers and mothers coming together in the crucial moment in Slovenian history, optimistically gazing towards an independent future. The fundamental idea of the exhibition is to once again relive the positive atmosphere of 20 years ago, as it is very much needed today, when we must once again reunite our powers to overcome obstacles of today’s world.


In terms of its content and design, the exhibition is based on three sets:


  1. The period prior to the plebiscite

The most extensive set presents documents that reflect the unity of Slovenian parties. The adaptation of the act on plebiscite enabled the Slovenian nation to make its own decision on what type of country it wishes to live in, and by signing an agreement the parties collectively made an effort for the success on the plebiscite. The documents of the internal affairs bodies bear witness of the unpredictable security situation in Slovenia. Outside Slovenian borders a remarkable contribution to supporting the plebiscite was made by Slovenians living abroad by sending in thousands of signatures and letters of support. Public opinion polls show a daily growth of support FOR the sovereign country of Slovenia. The central part of the first period is dedicated to the advertising campaign that with the means of advertising (posters, newspaper advertisements, television spot and other promotional material) succeeded in creating an atmosphere of expectation of the joyful event or created a solemn atmosphere, emphasising that Slovenia is open outwards, not closing within its own borders.  Newspapers daily reported about visits of both right-wing and left-wing politicians across Slovenia, all of them encouraging people to come and vote for the independent state of Slovenia.


  1. The day of the plebiscite

The second set of the exhibition offers the simulation of the polling station, the possibility of repeated voting, gives examples of invalid ballot papers, displays the computer used to process voting data, ballot box … Photos from the polling station throughout Slovenia that day bear witness to enthusiastic atmosphere, filled with anticipation. Philatelic collection of commemorative issues of envelopes, postcards and post stamps occupy a special place of the exhibition. In memory of the exhibition, the Archives of the RS also made a replica of a commemorative stamp.


  1. The period after the plebiscite

The final set of the exhibition takes us back to the time when polling stations were closed and the outcome of the plebiscite was announced, depicting scenes of huge celebration across Slovenia. There are photographs by Tone Stojko and a chance to see TV coverage of the RTV Slovenia. Felicitations were coming from all over the world. A special place is dedicated to numismatics – means of payment (legal and illegal) which were created and used in 1990 (Yugoslav Dinar, value vouchers, Italian Lira, German Mark, Hamurabi’s Lipa etc.). To commemorate the anniversaries of the Slovenian plebiscite the Bank of Slovenia issued commemorative coins made of gold and silver, as well as circulation coins made of the usual alloy. The exhibition includes a replica of the silver coin which was issued to commemorate the first anniversary of the plebiscite.


The opening of the exhibition will take place in Cankarjev dom on December 23, 2010. The exhibition will be open to the public from December 24, 2010 to January 18, 2011 and will then travel across Slovenia and be held by a number of museums, archives, theatre and three secondary schools in Murska Sobota, Novo mesto and Ptuj.

The expected schedule of the exhibition is as follows:








January 21 – February 28, 2011

The Museum of the Contemporary History Celje

Historical Archives in Celje


March 2 – March 29, 2011

The Museum of the National Liberation Maribor

Regional Archives in Maribor


April 1 – April 20, 2011

Ptuj Castle


Historical Archives in Ptuj


April 22 – May 17, 2011

Murska Sobota Grammar School

The National Educational Institute of the RS


May 20 – June 16, 2011

The Sokol Cultural Centre

Škofja Loka Municipality


June 21 – July 29, 2011

Kos Manor House

The Museum of Jesenice


August 3 – September 6, 2011

St. Anna Monastery

Regional Archives in Koper


September 9 – September 29, 2011

Nova Gorica Municipality

Regional Archives in Nova Gorica


October 4 – November 2, 2011

Atrium of the Post of Slovenia on Čopova Street 11

The Archives of the RS


November 7 – November 30, 2011

Secondary School Grm Novo mesto

The National Educational Institute of the RS


December 5, 2011 – January 5, 2012

The Archives of the RS

The Archives of the RS