According to the Constitution, the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia is the representative body for social, economic, professional and local interests. It is composed of:
- representatives of labour and social interests (functional interests)
- representatives of local interests (territorial interests).
It has 40 members. The interests they represent cover all the main segments of society:
- four representatives of employers,
- four representatives of employees,
- four representatives of farmers, crafts and trades, and independent professions,
- six representatives of non-commercial fields,
- 22 representatives of local interests.
The National Council brings together the interests of various social groups within a single institution. Decisions are adopted on the basis of discussions held at the professional level. In order to preserve a high level of professionalism and keep political interests separate from the workings of the National Council, the legislator decided that members would not hold their office professionally. Members are employed in the social and economic fields represented in the National Council through interest groups, thus allowing them to maintain daily contact with the fields they represent.
The composition of the National Council is designed to neutralise the influence of political parties, which are involved in legislative processes primarily through the National Assembly. The National Council does not represent all citizens of Slovenia, but only specific social and economic interests. Its position and structure therefore necessitate a specific election system, and one that differs from the system used to elect deputies to the National Assembly. The main differences are in the method of election, the right to vote, the role played by political parties, the system used to assign mandates, and the term of office served.
Elections to the National Council are not regulated by a law passed by a two-thirds majority of all National Assembly deputies. Elections are indirect - they take place through the appropriate interest organisations or local communities. Indirect elections enable closer ties to be maintained between members of interest groups and their representatives than would be the case with direct elections. It is precisely for this reason that political parties are not specifically represented in the elections, although the workings of the National Council are not entirely free of political influence. Political parties exert greatest influence through those members representing local interests. They are elected by local community representative bodies. These bodies are formed as a result of general elections - in which, of course, political parties play a decisive role. Political parties exert much less influence over representatives of so-called 'functional' interests than they do over representatives of local interests.
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