YU LEXICON

Constituent Acts of Yugoslavia

The declaration of the state unity of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was preceded by the conclusions of the National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs and decisions on the unification of Vojvodina and Montenegro with Serbia. The National Assembly of Serbs, Croats, Bunjevci, Slovaks, Ruthenians and other peoples from Banat, Bačka and Baranja adopted the Decision on the Inclusion of Vojvodina in the Kingdom of Serbia on November 25, 1918. The Great National Assembly of the Serbian People in Montenegro decided in Podgorica on November 26, 1918 "that Montenegro should unite in one state with brotherly Serbia." Meanwhile, developments forced the Central Committee of the National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs to adopt, after some deliberation, a decision on the unification with Serbia on November 24, 1918 and to send a delegation to Belgrade. Once the delegation and Serbian Government members had coordinated their stands on the provisional organisation of the united state before the adoption of the Constitution, Crown Prince Alexander Karadjordjević proclaimed the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes at Krsmanović's House on Terazije Square in Belgrade.

In the address read out by Ante Pavelić a.k.a. "the dentist" in the presence of Crown Prince Alexander, Serbian Government members and delegation from Zagreb, the conclusions were made that the National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs should "declare the unification of the state of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs with Serbia and Montenegro in a single state," that King Peter I, that is Regent Alexander Karadjordjević, should rule throughout the territory of the newly created state and that the single parliamentary government and people's representative office should be created. The National Council expressed its wish that the Provisional National Office be formed in agreement between the National Council and representatives of the people of the Kingdom of Serbia, that the government's responsibility towards parliament be established, that the existing provincial administrations remain in place and remain accountable to autonomous representative offices and under state control, that the Constituent Assembly be elected on the basis of the general, equal, secret and proportional right to vote and that the final state borders correspond with ethnic borders in accordance with the principle of self-determination.

In his response to the Address, Crown Prince Alexander on behalf of King Peter I declared the "unification of Serbia with the countries of the independent state of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs into the unified Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes," and said that he would establish a government that would be accountable to the national office and whose first and foremost task would be to determine the state borders in accordance with ethnographic principles.

Regent Alexander declared Serbia's unification with the countries belonging to the independent state of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, rather than with the state of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs which had not been internationally recognised.

As the "constituent act" the December 1 declarations represented the basis of the state and legal organisation in the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes from unification to the adoption of the St Vitus's Day Constitution in 1921. In this period, King or Regent Alexander, Government and provisional national office represented the top authority in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The first government of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was created on December 20, 1918 and the Provisional National Office met on March 1, 1919.

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

Arhiv Jugoslavije The Constitutional Assembly adopted the Constitution with the negligent simple majority of 223 votes for. There were 35 votes against and 158 MPs were absent. When the Constitution was adopted, it became evident that there was a big discrepancy in the political parties' views on the key issues of state organisation and type of authority. Under the Constitution, the state was defined as a constitutional, parliamentary and hereditary monarchy. The Constitution defined the coat-of-arms, flag and name of the official language, which was Serbo-Croat-Slovene. The perception of "one people with three names" became prominent in the name of the state, its external features (coat-of-arms, flag) and name of the official language.

 

Arhiv Jugoslavije The Constitution did not recognise nobility, titles, "or any advantages gained by birth." It guaranteed personal freedom and freedom of confession, conscience and the press, right to form associations, to meet and to make agreements. It banned loansharking, abolished feudal relations and the serfs became the owners of state land without compensation on the date of liberation from the foreign rule. The National Assembly was monocameral and made up of members that people elected directly in a secret ballot. The right to vote was granted to every man who turned 21.

Arhiv JugoslavijeArhiv Jugoslavije Although the Constitution was based on the distribution of power, the king participated in all three forms of authority. The legislative authority was represented by parliament and head of state, who called the regular or special sessions of the National Assembly, had the right to dissolve it and approved laws adopted by it. The king had administrative power over the ministers. He appointed the prime minister and government members, who were accountable to him and the National Assembly. The judicial authority was vested in the courts and their judgements were delivered and enforced in the name of the king. The Constitution envisaged the centralist organisation of the state. The administrative centralism stemmed from the national unitarism, i.e. perception of national unity. The top legal act envisaged that the administration in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes be divided into regions, districts, circuits and municipalities. Under the Constitution, regions were formed on the basis of natural, social and economic circumstances and they could be populated by up to 800,000 people. The local, municipal, circuit and regional governance was established. The bodies of regional administration were the regional assemblies and regional committees. The state administrative authority supervised the operation of local authorities through the grand chieftain, who was appointed by the king, and special expert bodies.

 

Under a decree on the division into regions of April 26, 1922, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was divided into 33 regions, according to the geographic, social, economic as well as ethnic and historic principles

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

 
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE KINGDOM OF SERBS, CROATS AND SLOVENES, June 28, 1921  PDF

On January 6, 1929 King Alexander abolished the St Vitus's Day Constitution, dissolved the National Assembly and imposed his own regime. The Government adopted a number of laws that replaced the legal norms from the abolished Constitution. Under the Law on the Royal Power and the Supreme Administration of the State, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was defined as a hereditary monarchy. It was declared that all authority in the country was vested in the king. He appointed the president and members of the Ministerial Council who worked under his authority. He issued and promulgated laws through decrees previously signed by the prime minister, competent minister and justice minister. The judiciary operated in the name of the king.

Under the Law on the Protection of Public Security and Order in the State, the public and political lives were suspended and the work of associations and political parties "that bear religious or tribal markings" was banned. Under the Law Amending the Law on Municipalities and Regional Governments, municipal administrations were dissolved and it was said that municipal administrations for the cities of Belgrade, Zagreb and Ljubljana would be appointed under a king's decree and that grand chieftains would appoint the other municipal administrations.

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

When he imposed his own regime, King Alexander announced the return to the Constitutional order "as soon as possible." Observing the internal and foreign political situation, on September 3, 1931 the king adopted the Constitution that formally ended the period of dictatorship of the monarchy. The promulgation of the Constitution did not mean that the ideology of integral Yugoslavia was abandoned; instead, it was an attempt to put into life the Yugoslav idea as a state program and general people's movement under the conditions of "normal" Constitutional and political lives.

The Constitution reaffirmed the national unitarism and centralism. The national unity and state integrity were symbolised by the king. The state was defined as a hereditary and constitutional monarchy. The renewal of political parties was essentially prevented through the provision that "there can be no association on the religious or tribal or regional basis for the purpose of forming political parties or for physical education purposes." A bicameral National Office made up of the Senate and National Assembly was introduced. The king had the right to appoint the same number of senators as the people elected at direct elections. The introduction of the Senate ensured the king's control of the laws that could pass through the National Assembly against his will. The legislative authority was exerted by the king and national office. The king's administrative authority was exerted through the ministers. He appointed and dismissed the prime minister and members of the government who were accountable to him rather than to parliament.

The administration in the Kingdom was in the bannates, circuits and municipalities. The Constitution defined the borders of nine bannates, previously determined in the Law of October 3, 1929, and this meant that they could be changed only if the Constitution were amended. Bannates, as bodies of self-rule, consisted of the bannate councils and bannate committees.

Article 116, also called the "Little Constitution," gave the king the right to take measures beyond the Constitutional and legal regulations in special situations, but with their additional confirmation by the national office. The Decree on the Croatian Bannate and several other decrees were adopted before and during World War II in accordance with this Article.

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

Arhiv Jugoslavije At the first session of the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ) in Bihać, representatives of peoples from all parts of Yugoslavia regardless of their ethnicity, religion or political party affiliation, adopted a resolution noting: that the April collapse of Yugoslavia had been the direct consequence of a policy that had been directed against the people and series of treasons by the military and political leaderships; that the atrocities committed by Draža Mihailović's Chetniks were no less ruthless and massive than the atrocities committed by the occupiers, Ustasha and Nedić's gangs; that a large number of officers and the municipal and state apparatuses of the former Yugoslavia were placed in the service of the occupier; and that only the Communist Party of Yugoslavia remained faithful to the people and their freedom and invited all peoples to joint armed fight against the occupier.

After this, the Resolution stressed the huge and unlimited affection towards the Soviet Union; welcomed the victorious efforts of the US, British and French troops; it was said: that the people's liberation army through its victories had become a factor of international importance; that the Yugoslav government in exile bore full responsibility for the atrocities committed by Draža Mihailović's Chetniks; that the national liberation committees were bodies of people's democratic power; that AVNOJ was the general national and political party representation of the people's liberation fight in Yugoslavia; that "representatives of all countries of Yugoslavia, rallied in free Bihać, have decided to constitute themselves in the Anti-Fascist Council of the People's Liberation of Yugoslavia, as the highest political expression of the created strong unity of the people of Yugoslavia," whose main task is the final liberation of all Yugoslav peoples and creation of conditions for equality.

Under the Resolution, AVNOJ was to elect from amongst its members its executive committee, president and three vice presidents The AVNOJ Presidency headed the Council, represented it in public, called the sessions of the Council and Executive Committee, prepared the agenda, presided the sessions and coordinated the work of some sections of the Executive Committee, which was in charge of current affairs. The Executive Committee was the de facto government of new Yugoslavia, although de iure it was not.

AVNOJ was organised as a monocameral assembly made up of national delegations. It represented the "revolutionary assembly of the federation."

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

 
THE RESOLUTION ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF AVNOJ, November 27, 1942  PDF

Arhiv Jugoslavije The councillors adopted a declaration in Jajce noting that: in the course of the national liberation struggle a new ratio of forces was created and that it had to be reflected appropriately in the administrative and state leadership; that the remnants of the hegemonistic policy of greater Serbia were destroyed and that material, political and ethical conditions were created for the future democratic federative brotherhood of Yugoslav nations who wanted their allies to recognise their fight against the occupier and free democratic will; that the bodies of national power should be recognised and respected abroad; that the Yugoslav "government" abroad should be stripped of the right to represent Yugoslav peoples and that measures should be taken against the king and monarchy in accordance with their attitude towards the national liberation fight; they expressed their warm feelings towards the Soviet Union, Great Britain and United States and awe and recognition of the heroic fight and glorious victories of the Red Army and allied forces against the fascist occupier; they thanked the allies for their first aid in military material, equipment and food sent to the peoples of Yugoslavia; they accepted and welcomed the decisions of the Moscow conference.

 

Arhiv Jugoslavije After this, conclusions were adopted, serving as the basis for the formulation of decisions. AVNOJ was constituted as the supreme legislative and executive representative body, as the supreme representative of the sovereignty of the people and the state of Yugoslavia. It adopted a number of decisions, three of them of constituent character: Decision on the Supreme National Legislative and Executive Representative Body of Yugoslavia and National Liberation Committee of Yugoslavia as the provisional bodies of the supreme people's power in Yugoslavia during the people's liberation war; Decision on stripping the so-called Yugoslav government abroad of the right of legal government, and on banning King Peter II Karadjordjević to return to the country; Decision on constructing Yugoslavia on the federative principle.

 

Arhiv Jugoslavije The supreme state bodies of new Yugoslavia were established under AVNOJ decisions. The Presidency of AVNOJ was elected, made up of the president, five vice presidents, two secretaries and 55 members. The AVNOJ Presidency adopted a decision on the definition of NKOJ as the body bearing all characteristics of a government, through which AVNOJ realised its executive function.

Decisions from the Second AVNOJ Session have constitutional character. Although these decisions suspended the internal continuity with the Kingdom of Yugoslavia because they do not take their strength from the Constitution of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia of 1931, they did not interrupt the international legal continuity of Yugoslavia as a subject of international law. Though monarchy was not abolished, it was "legally suspended."

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

 
THE DECLARATION FROM THE SECOND SESSION OF AVNOJ, November 29, 1943  PDF
AVNOJ DECISIONS, November 29, 1943  PDF
AVNOJ PRESIDENCY DECISIONS, November 29, 1943  PDF

Starting from the principle of state continuity and fact that Yugoslavia was recognised in the League of Nations in its old form, Josip Broz Tito, president of NKOJ, and Ivan Šubašić, head of the Yugoslav royal goverment, agreed that "King Peter II should not enter the country until the peoples make their decision about it and that the Regency should exert royal authority in his absence," that a joint Government should be formed and they agreed on its composition.

There were two annexes to this agreement. The first sets the deadline for the holding of elections for a date after the final liberation of Yugoslavia, in accordance with the Law on Elections for the Constitutional Assembly. It was said that AVNOJ should be in charge of the legislative and government of executive functions until the establishment of the constitutional assembly. The second annexe regulated the position of the regent and administration of the king's estate.

On March 2, 1945 King Peter II appointed the royal regents and transferred his authority to them until the election for the Constitutional Assembly, which was supposed to decide on the form of authority. Through the Regency Yugoslavia was represented abroad in its old form.

Under the Belgrade Agreement and recommendations of the Crimea Conference, on March 7, 1945 the provisional people's government of the Democratic Federative Yugoslavia was formed. Its establishment marked the end of the previous parallelism, "dualism" or "duality" of governments. The establishment of the provisional government was preceded by the dissolution of the royal Yugoslav government and NKOJ.

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

Arhiv Jugoslavije In accordance with the recommendations of the Crimea conference, at its third session in Belgrade AVNOJ was expanded by members of the pre-war National Assembly elected in 1938 and representatives of political parties and groups who had not been compromised by cooperation with the enemy. It adopted the rules of procedure, elected the AVNOJ Presidency and committees. It changed its name into the Provisional People's Assembly of the DFY. AVNOJ adopted the resolution on the division of Sandžak between Serbia and Montenegro and on the inclusion of Kosovo and Metohija and Vojvodina in federal Serbia.

The Provisional National Assembly adopted the laws on the organisation of elections for the Constitutional Assembly, agrarian reform and colonisation, judiciary and other regulations.

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

Arhiv Jugoslavije At the first joint session of both chambers (Federal Assembly and People's Assembly), the Constitutional Assembly adopted a declaration abolishing monarchy and promulgating a republic. King Peter II and the Karadjordjević dynasty were stripped of all rights. The declaration of republic was tantamount to a complete liquidation of the constitutional continuity maintained for foreign political reasons in the period between 1943-1945.

The Declaration said that the FPRY was a federal state of equal peoples who had freely expressed their will to remain united in Yugoslavia.

 

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

Arhiv Jugoslavije The first Constitution of the FPRY was unanimously declared at the joint session of both chambers of the Constitutional Assembly. It was made on the model of the 1936 Soviet Constitution (Stalin's Constitution). This particularly refers to the part on the role and authority of executive bodies of power. Yugoslavia was defined as "a federal people's state, republican in form, a community of peoples equal in rights who, on the basis of the right to self-determination, including the right of separation, have expressed their will to live together in a federative state," made up of six republics out of which Serbia also included the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina and Autonomous Region of Kosovo and Metohija. Although it was organised on the federative principle, in the initial stages new Socialist Yugoslavia had the markings of a centralised federation, which was reflected in the division of jurisdiction between the federal state and republics, with the stressed domination of federal bodies.

The Constitution defined the coat-of-arms and flag. The fundamental rights of peoples and republics, which received their constitutions, were regulated. It was said that the territorial delineation among the republics was to be carried out by the People's Assembly of the FPRY and that the republican boundaries could not change without their approval. National minorities were guaranteed the right and protection of cultural development and free use of language.

 

Arhiv Jugoslavije Property was state-owned, cooperative or private. However, private property could be limited or expropriated if this was warranted by the "general interest." It was said that the "land belongs to those who cultivate it." Citizens over 18 years of age had the right to elect and be elected to all bodies of state authority. The freedom of conscience and freedom of religion were guaranteed. The church was separated from the state. The freedom of the press, speech, association, convention, public gatherings and events was guaranteed. School was separated from the church and the general education was compulsory and free.

The Constitution regulated the competence of the FPRY and top federal bodies. The People's Assembly of the FPRY was the top body of state authority and was made up of two houses – Federal Council and the Council of Nationalities. The Presidium of the People's Assembly, and the Presidency of the Constitutional Assembly before it, operated as the collective head of state. It was made up of the president, six vice presidents, a secretary and up to 30 members.

 

Arhiv Jugoslavije The highest executive and administrative body of state authority was the Government of the FPRY, which was made up of the president, vice presidents, ministers, president of the Federal Planning Commission and president of the Federal Control Commission. The ministries were general federal and "federal-republican." The Government had committees for education, culture, people's health and social welfare for the purpose of general management in these branches of state administration. The Constitution determined the bodies of power of people's republics, autonomous province and autonomous region, administrative and territorial units: circuits, city regions, cities, districts and regions.

The bodies of the judiciary were the Supreme Court of the FPRY, supreme courts of the republics and autonomous provinces and circuit courts.

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

 
CONSTITUTION OF THE FPRY, January 31, 1946 PDF

Changes which occurred in the field of economic, political and social organisation of Yugoslavia between 1946 and 1953 were initially regulated by laws and then by the Constitutional law of the FPRY. The Constitutional Law was not the complete Constitution of Yugoslavia. It abolished and amended much of the 1946 Constitution, but did not abolish it completely. In the first part the Constitutional Law declared the new rights of producers and working people, formulated the contents and form of power of the working people, regulated the issue of relations between the federation and republics. The second part refers to the organisation of authority in the federation and truly represents a federal law. The third part includes provisions about the bodies of power of republics and bodies of power of the autonomous province and autonomous region.

Yugoslavia was defined as a socialist democratic federal state of sovereign and equal peoples. While the 1946 Constitution stressed that power belonged to the people, the Constitutional Law said that "all power in the FPRY belongs to the working people." One of the most important novelties was the provision under which the following was to be the basis of the social and political organisation of Yugoslavia: "social ownership of the means of production, self-management of industrial producers, self-management of the working people in municipalities, cities and circuits."

The highest body of power in Yugoslavia was the Federal People's Assembly which had two houses – the Federal Council and the Council of Producers. Although the Constitutional Law did not define the Council of Nationalities as a separate chamber, it envisaged it as a separate chamber in which deputies from the republics and autonomous units at the Federal Council had the special right to veto the adoption of laws and other decisions of the Federal Council which they believed undermined the Constitutionally defined relations between the federation and people's republics.

Instead of the Presidium as the collective head of state, the office of the republic president was established and he was simultaneously the head of state and president of the Federal Executive Council. Ministries and committees were replaced by state secretariats and administrations. Members of the Federal Executive Council (SIV) were elected from amongst the members of the Federal Council. Every republic was represented in the Government and presidents of the executive councils of the republics were members of SIV according to their position. SIV had two or more vice presidents.

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

The Constitution is known under the name "Self-Management Charter" because the self-management model was implemented in all spheres and at all levels of social life. The state was renamed the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia and defined as a "federal state of voluntarily united and equal peoples and socialist democratic union based on the authority of the working people and self-management. "The territory of Yugoslavia" is integral and is made up of the territories of socialist republics."”

Under the 1963 Constitution, the Autonomous Region of Kosovo and Metohija became the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. In the development of the Yugoslav federalism, the autonomous units within Serbia essentially had the same position, but there were certain differences between them (name, different number of representatives at the Council of Nationalities, AP Vojvodina had the Supreme Court).

Instead of two, the Federal Assembly was now made up of five houses. In addition to the Federal Council, there were also four self-management councils: economic, educational and cultural, social and health care and organisational and political.

The office of the republic president was separated from that of the president of the Federal Executive Council. It was determined that the president should be elected to a four-year term of office and that the same person could be elected at two consecutive elections. However, "there are no limitations on the election for the position of republic president for Josip Broz Tito."

New institutions were introduced: vice president of the republic, Constitutional Court and Council of the Federation. SIV was made up of the president and a number of members elected by the Federal Council. SIV members were elected from amongst the Assembly members and the attention was paid to their ethnic composition. The principle of rotation was introduced in the leading state and political offices.

The position of social and political organisations (SKJ, SSRNJ) was determined in the political system. The term "social and political communities" denoted municipalities, circuits, autonomous provinces, socialist republics and the federation. Their rights and duties were determined.

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

Significant changes in the structure of the federation started with the Constitutional Amendments in 1967 and 1968, which gained the integral form in 1971. Amendments marked the beginning of the concrete implementation of stands of the 8th Congress of the SKJ held on December 7-13, 1964. On this occasion for the first time after World War II the national issue was publicly "opened," the issue of economic causes of national inequalities was raised, a connection between the bureaucratic centralism, "big state hegemony" and nationalism was established. What started, in fact, was the process of alteration of relations between the federal state and republics, resulting in a fundamental transformation of the federation. Yugoslavia was built as a "federation of balance." The monolithic social and political life was replaced by the "self-management federalism." Republican elites started thinking about Yugoslavia as a "transitional" creation. Administrative boundaries among republics (formerly described as "veins in marble") became the boundaries of autonomous states. The Yugoslav state was increasingly becoming a "federating" federation.

The amendments weakened and limited the autonomy of the federation and put it under the supervision of republican and provincial structures. Republics and autonomous provinces grew stronger. Republics, as the social and political communities, were treated as national states. The status of autonomous provinces was expanded and "sovereign rights" started to be implemented in provinces. A "two-tier federation" was created. The position and status of Serbia and autonomous provinces in the federation essentially became equal. Constitutional provisions defining socialist autonomous provinces as an integral part of SR Serbia were declarative because within Serbia the provinces enjoyed the status of "territorial and sovereign social and political autonomy."

The Constitutional alteration of the federation started through Amendments I-VI, which the Federal Council adopted on April 18, 1967, The Council of Nationalities was reintroduced as the general jurisdiction chamber at the Federal Assembly. Changes were made in the composition of SIV and position of the federal bodies of power.

Amendments VII-XIX, adopted on December 26, 1968, renamed the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija into the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo. Provinces were granted the right to adopt their own constitutional laws.

Constitutional amendments more comprehensively defined the autonomous provinces as wider social and political communities within Serbia with autonomous rights and responsibilities. Autonomous provinces were granted the status of a constituent element of the federation, although they did not have the features of federal units like republics. Under the amendments, the provinces were to have their supreme courts and other judicial bodies. The territorial integrity of provinces was guaranteed and their boundaries could be altered only if their assemblies approved. The term national minorities was replaced by the term ethnic groups and their equality with the peoples of Yugoslavia was guaranteed.

The popular name for Amendments XX-XLII, adopted on June 30, 1971 was "workers' amendments" because they comprehensively defined the position of working people in the associated labour. Under these amendments, working people in the basic organisations of associated labour received the right to a function and to means of social reproduction. The functions of the federation were significantly reduced in the field of investments and legislation. The federation carried out certain functions in the joint interest of all peoples and ethnic groups of Yugoslavia, while some were carried out only on the basis of harmonised stand of republics and autonomous provinces.

Under the amendments, the Yugoslav federal state was defined as a "state union of voluntarily united peoples and their socialist republics as well as the socialist autonomous provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo which are within the Socialist Republic of Serbia, based on the authority and self-management of the working class and all working people and the socialist self-management democratic union of working people and citizens and equal peoples and ethnic groups."

Changes were introduced in the institutions of the federation and in addition to the president of the republic the Presidency of the SFRY was established as the collective head of state and bearer of the legislative and political initiative. Josip Broz Tito was the president of the republic and president of the Presidency of the SFRY. The position and role of SIV and federal bodies of administration were changed considerably. The bodies of the federation were formed on the parity basis.

In addition to the Yugoslav People's Army, territorial defence was introduced as another armed force of the SFRY. This will have far-reaching consequences when the disintegration of Yugoslavia begins.

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

The Constitution was promulgated at the session of the Council of Nationalities of the Federal Assembly. The solutions adopted under the 1967, 1968 and 1971 amendments were entered into the new Constitution. The top legal act of the state said for the first time that the SFRY had the national anthem, but its name was not mentioned.

The Constitution introduced the consensus among republics and provinces in decision-making, including the decision to amend the Constitution. The right to self-determination and secession was legalised, but it remained unclear whether this right belonged to the peoples or to republics. Social ownership was defined as the main feature of the economic system. The system of delegates was introduced as the basis for the assemblies of all social, political and interest communities and bodies of social self-management.

Since the amendments had thoroughly reformed the federation, the 1974 Constitution introduced no major changes in the determination of character and content of functions and relations in the federal state. Changes mostly occurred in the organisation of the federation. Instead of the previous five houses, the SFRY Assembly was now made up of the Federal Council and the Council of Republics and Provinces. Josip Broz Tito became the president "without any limitation on his term of office." SIV members were elected by both houses of the SFRY Assembly, which had to pay attention to the equal representation of republics and appropriate representation of autonomous provinces.

The Constitution defined more exhaustively and clearly the self-management interest communities as a relatively new form of self-management linking. The obligation was established of constituting municipal local offices as the basic form of self-management organisation of working people and citizens at the local level. The Constitution stressed and elaborated the social protection of self-management rights and social property, and bodies in charge of realising this protection were determined. Some important novelties were introduced in this field. The social defender of self-management was introduced as an autonomous body initiating the procedure for the protection of self-management rights of the working people and social property.

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

Reforms of the Yugoslav state continued with the 1981 and 1988 amendments. Amendments I-VIII, adopted on July 3, 1981, contain the principles on collective labour, decision-making and responsibility. The political arguments for these amendments rested on the idea that individualised decision-making and administration clashed with the nature of social ownership, social self-management, delegate system and equality of the people and ethnic groups. Practice showed, however, that the general implementation of the principle of collective decision-making and administration blocked and made absurd the operative side of business operation and its continuity, and on the other side resulted in the depersonalisation of responsibility, which was something unprecedented in modern history.

Under these amendments, the president and vice president of the SFRY Assembly were elected for one-year terms. It was said that the same person could not be elected SIV president twice in a row and SIV members could be elected to the same office twice in a row at the most.

Amendments IX-XLVIII, adopted on November 25, 1988, expanded the basis for the single Yugoslav market and to a certain extent also the legislative rights of the federation. The principle of consensus in decision-making on the important issues at the federation level was preserved.

The legal provision was adopted that the SFRY anthem was to be "Hej Sloveni" ("Hey, Slavs"). The name of the anthem was previously regulated under the Law on the Use of the Coat-of-Arms, Flag and National Anthem of April 22, 1977. The Yugoslav state got its anthem only towards the end of its existence.

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

The SFRY disintegrated in 1991 and 1992 through armed secession supported and assisted by foreign states. In the case of Yugoslavia the principle of territorial integrity and internationally recognised borders was not observed. In violation of international laws, republican borders, which had never been legally determined and delineated, became the borders of sovereign states. Federal units became the holders of the people's right to self-determination.

After the international recognition of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro decided to continue living in a common state. The Federal Council of the SFRY adopted the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The state was defined as a sovereign federal state based on the equality of its citizens and equality of the member-republics. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was made up of the Republic of Serbia and Republic of Montenegro.

Through its bodies, the federal state shaped its policy, adopted and implemented federal laws, other regulations and general acts. Its bodies were the Federal Assembly made up of the Chamber of Citizens and Chamber of Republics, president of the republic, Federal Government, made up of the prime minister, deputy prime minister and ministers, Federal Court, federal state prosecutor and National Bank of Yugoslavia.

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

Under the Starting Bases for the Reorganisation of Relations between Serbia and Montenegro, signed in Belgrade on March 14, 2002, the Federal Assembly on February 4, 2003 promulgated the Constitutional Charter of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.

The State Union is "based on the equality of the two member-states, the State of Serbia and the State of Montenegro." Under the Charter, the state union's flag, national anthem and coat-of-arms were defined in accordance with the law. The administrative centre of Serbia and Montenegro was in Belgrade. The bodies of the state union were the Assembly of Serbia and Montenegro, president of Serbia and Montenegro, Council of Ministers and Court of Serbia and Montenegro. The Assembly was monocameral. The Assembly president and vice president could not be from the same member-state. The president of the Assembly and president of Serbia and Montenegro could not be from the same member-state. The president of Serbia and Montenegro represented the State Union in the country and abroad and chaired the Council of Ministers, consisted of five ministries. The ministers of foreign affairs and defence were to swap with their deputies from the other member-state after two years.

The Constitutional Charter stressed that "upon the expiry of a three-year period, the member-states shall have the right to initiate the procedure for the alteration of the state status, that is for leaving the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro." Montenegro used this right, organised a referendum on May 21, 2006 and became an independent state.

 

Text prepared by: Mitar Todorović

 

 

Date of last change: 23. 03. 2022

2024. The Archives of Yugoslavia

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