Yugoslavia Table of Contents
In 1966 the party's liberal majority convinced Tito to oust Rankovic by proving that the security chief had grossly abused his power. With secret police activity reduced and the conservatives lacking a leader, new political forces blossomed in Yugoslavia. In 1967 a series of constitutional amendments, instigated by Bosnia and Hercegovina, enlarged the role of the Chamber of Nationalities in federal decision making. The amendments specified separate functions for that chamber and canceled the centralizing force the 1963 constitution had exerted on the Federal Assembly. A new generation of younger, more pragmatic leaders began replacing conservative, older party members, and issues of nationalism and economics now were debated hotly and openly in the League of Communists. With politicians no longer allowed to hold concurrent federal and party positions, the bodies of state government grew more independent of party domination. (In the next twenty-plus years, however, national leaders moved constantly from party to state positions and back, thus largely preserving the connection.)
After 1966 the Yugoslav media more openly criticized government and party policy, and economic enterprises became more truly "self managing." In 1967 and 1968, the party openly debated whether delegates to the Federal Assembly could ignore constituent demands to take an "all-Yugoslav" position. Largely because most politicians identified such a position with Serbian centralist domination, delegates were held to strict pursuit of regional interests. Discussion of such issues signaled the rekindling of ethnic nationalist conflicts that had been muffled by totalitarianism in the past, and the resolution of the delegate responsibility question indicated ascendancy of nationalist forces. Beginning in 1966, ethnic conflicts sparked frequent demonstrations throughout the country. Bosnia and Hercegovina complained in 1966 that development funding was insufficient; the longstanding rivalry between Serbia and Croatia resurfaced in 1967; and Albanians demonstrated in Kosovo and Macedonia in 1968. A national-liberal coalition of Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia fought for additional decentralization and against anticipated Serbian efforts to dominate the federal government. Although that alliance disintegrated in 1969, its liberal approach dominated policy making until 1971. In an effort to regain control of the republics, the LCY decentralized its structure, giving much more decision-making power to the party at the republic level and lower.
In both party and state political structures, the new regional influence enormously complicated federal policy making. Now every decision required consultation and compromise. The FEC began consulting its equivalents in each republic before performing its role in national executive decision making. The compromise process often led to stalemate, especially on the explosive issue of economic development in the richer versus the poorer republics. To streamline the process, Tito intervened in 1969 to form a new Executive Bureau for the Party Presidium. The Executive Bureau was a central party organ empowered to mediate disputes among the parties of the republics. (The Party Presidium itself, comprising representatives from each republic, was inherently fragmented along regional lines.) Later that year, however, the Executive Bureau was helpless when demonstrations in Slovenia over distribution of World Bank (see Glossary) funds prompted divisive statements by party leaders of other republics and strong Slovenian criticism of the system. In 1970 the Croatian party began a protracted, powerful campaign against the existing federal system, which it described as a tool for Serbian domination of the other republics. The chief goal of the Croatian campaign was to change federal policy so that a single republic could veto any federal action.
Tito again responded by creating a new federal body, this time in the apparatus of the state rather than the party. Like the party's Executive Bureau, the collective State Presidency included the most qualified representatives of each republic and was intended to provide a forum for national compromise, insulated from regional pressures. Meanwhile, the outburst of ethnic factionalism that surfaced in the late 1960s became especially severe in Croatia. Between 1969 and 1971, protracted negotiations for new amendments to the federal constitution only heightened Croatian separatism. The Croatian nationalists, based in the powerful Matica Hrvatska cultural organization, split the Croatian party and launched a massive separatist propaganda campaign that resulted in serious clashes with ethnic Serbs in Croatia.
Data as of December 1990
Yugoslavia Table of Contents