October 17 in Slovenian History: Women Vote in Ljubljana for First Time

By , 17 Oct 2019, 16:46 PM Lifestyle
Natural science class in Ursuline gardens, the site of today's parliament building Natural science class in Ursuline gardens, the site of today's parliament building 1910/1911

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In 1910 the Carniolan provincial assembly adopted a new electoral law for municipal elections, under which many women were granted suffrage.

At the time Ljubljana was a stronghold of the elitist Liberal Party, with the Slovenian People’s Party in opposition. At the provincial level, Slovenian People’s Party won an absolute majority in 1908 and their municipal electoral reform meant an attack on the advantageous position Liberals’ enjoyed in Ljubljana.

Liberals, who were mostly supported by the wealthy voters, were fierce opponents of universal, equal and women’s suffrage. The Slovenian Catholic political camp in Carniola (liberals called them clericals) recognised women's municipal suffrage in 1910, and not only for taxpayers and landowners, but also explicitly for teachers and retired teachers. Besides, women were allowed to actually vote, not just authorise a man to go and cast a vote in their name, which was the practice until then.

In 1911, when women participated in Ljubljana municipal elections for the first time, police had to protect the separate female polling station on Bleiweiss street (today’s Prešeren street) and eventually closed the street down, since liberals organised protests during which they were yelling and spitting at mostly Ursuline women – nuns – who, as teachers, had a right to vote which they were also willing to exercise.

After WWI, on May 15, 1920 the Slovenian People’s Party granted universal suffrage for men and women at the municipal level. This was the first time universal women suffrage was introduced to Slovenian lands. It did not last long, however. The opponents of universal suffrage, local liberals and leaders in Belgrade managed to dismiss the right just two months before the local elections in 1921.

Apart from Slovenian People’s Party,  the social democrats, communists and Croatian farmers’ party also stood in favour of women suffrage.  

Women were granted the right to vote again in 1945, when the communists took power. However, given the one-party system and a lack of true choice, we can conclude that Slovenian men and women were finally granted equal suffrage with Slovenian first democratic elections in 1990.

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