In 1987 workers in the state owned company Litostroj, a Ljubljana-based heavy machinery manufacturer, began their strike, which many consider one of the crucial events in the democratisation of Slovenia.
The strike of about five thousand Litostroj workers under the leadership of an engineer France Tomšič lasted between December 9 and 15, expressed no confidence into the existing one-party governing rule by demanding that unions be able to become independent, and countered the ruling party at the political level by establishing an initiative committee of the Social Democratic Union of Slovenia.
Since the existence of another party, besides the ruling one, was not constitutionally possible at the time, the Social Democratic Union’s constitutional meeting could only occur on February 16, 1989, after the constitution had been changed.
The new party’s first leader was Tomšič, and Jože Pučnik became his successor in November 1989. At the 1993 congress, Janez Janša – current leader of the SDS – was elected as the party’s new leader.