Development of party life


At the time when it became independent, Serbia did not have organized political parties, but did have distinctive characteristics of future liberals, progressive thinkers and radicals, The National Radical Party was first established on January 20, 1881 under the wings of the assembly and owing to the activities of its deputies. The party program appeared on the same day in the Self-Management (Samouprava) daily. The party’s basic principle was expresses by the slogan: “National prosperity and freedom inside, independence, freedom and unity with other Serbian territories outside”. The party leader was Nikola Pasic. During the last decades of the 19th century, the Radicals split into two fractions due to their different beliefs with regards to the Obrenovic dynasty. The inter-party separation began in 1901. The younger wing of the Radical Party, which stood for uncompromised battle against the Obrenovic dynasty, formed a new, Independent Radical Party and published its program in its newspaper Echo (Odjek) in 1904. The party leaders were Ljuba Zivkovic, Ljuba Stojanovic and Ljuba Davidovic.

The Serbian Progressive Party was established on January 22, 1881 from a group of moderate conservatives – politicians who published their program in the Emergence (Videlo) newspaper. The party’s main principle was – law, freedom, progress. The party leaders were Milan Pirocanac, Milutin Garasanin and Stojan Novakovic.

The Liberal Party was slow in its establishment, engrossed in the battle for independence. In the newspaper Serbian Independence (Srpska nezavisnost) it published its program on October 13, 1881. The party stood for unity of the Serbian nation and a constitutional transformation of the country. The party leaders were Jovan Ristic, Jovan Avakumovic and Stojan Ribarac.

From the May Coup in 1903 until World War I broke out, the leading parties in the Kingdom were the National and Independent Radical Party. This balance of power was also evident in the capital. Until 1914, the representatives of the independents were most often elected to be presidents of Belgrade’s municipality.

Following the foundation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, multi-party life became far more complex. Parties of nations who found themselves together in the same state entered into the political arena. Beside the already existing ones, new parties were established whose activities stepped outside of their narrow nationalistic frameworks, such as the Democratic Party, the Yugoslav Republican Party, Association of Farmers and the Communist Party of Yugoslavia.

Governmental structure and multi-national relations became the source of continuous governmental and political crisis, pushing back all the other problems of the newly established state, including the further development of parliamentary life. Instability was also reflected in the frequent changes of government. In the period between the adoption of the St. Vitus Day Constitution in 1921, until dictatorship was introduced in 1929, not a single assembly remained in office for its full four-year term. Up to the beginning of World War II the multi-party life in the Kingdom revolved around seeking compromises in Serbo-Croatian relations.

Vladimir Jovanovic (1833–1922), politician, economist, he was one of the greatest Serbian scholars of his time. As a distinguished liberal, he wrote the Political Dictionary in 1872. Even though only letters A to DJ were published at the time, owing to the systematically outlined liberal ideas, the Dictionary was highly influential, and contemporaries named it the “Bible of the young”.

Svetozar Markovic (1846–1875), founder of the socialist movement in Serbia. He was educated in Belgrade, Petrograd and Zurich. His text Serbia in the East (1872) marked the separation from liberal romanticism. He fought for national self-management and social equality and was the predecessor of the radical movement in Serbia.

Ljubomir Davidovic (1863–1940), one of the founders of the Democratic Party and its yearlong president. In the political life of the Kingdom of Serbia, followed by the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, he participated as prime minister in 1919 and 1924 and minister of education in 1904, 1914–1917, 1918. From 1929 he opposed dictatorship and was one of the leaders of the United Opposition. He shall be remembered as a symbol of non-corruptivness and political conscientiousness.

The Communist Party of Yugoslavia was founded in 1919. In November 1920, Yugoslav Communists won almost 200 000 votes and became the third strongest political party in the Constitutional Assembly. These changes were reflected in Belgrade’s political life. Following a short administration of the democrats, the communists acquired municipal government in 1920 and elected Filip Filipovic as mayor. Following the ban of the Communist Party in 1921, the Radical Party governed Belgrade until 1926, followed by the Democrats until the year 1929.

The first parliamentary elections following the introduction of dictatorship were held on May 1935. The Yugoslav Radical Society emerged as the leading party, headed by Milan Stojadinovic. Encompassing within its folds parts of the radical party, the Bosnia-Herzegovina Muslims and Slovenian clericalists, it never managed to become a unique political organization until 1939 when Milan Stojadinovic left the political scene.

His successor, Dragisa Cvetkovic reached an agreement in 1939 with the leader of the Croatian Farmers Party Vlatko Macek on a solution of the “Croatian issue” within the Kingdom. The Croatian regional unit ruled by a ban was created, however the long awaited federalization did not assist the Yugoslav kingdom from its speedy demise during World War II.


 << previous  Rulers of Serbia and Yugoslavia  » next chapter  Development of the institutions
Copyright © 2015, Historical archives of Belgrade LOGO IAB providan