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Yugoslavia Table of Contents


The Early Post-Tito Years

As expected, Tito's death began a new era in Yugoslav politics, but many of the trends of the 1970s continued. Milka Planinc of Croatia was elected prime minister in 1982, amid pledges from all quarters to continue Tito's policies. Much rhetoric proclaimed the need for drastic reform, but formidable bureaucratic inertia always blunted the impetus for change. The divisive issues that Tito had held in check were even more pronounced after his death, and the thoroughly divided power structure that succeeded him could manage only superficially the major problems that escalated through the decade.

Eight amendments were added to the Constitution in 1981. Their main purpose was to consolidate the elements of the rotational government that had been developed at various times in preceding years. Significantly, for the first time in a Yugoslav constitution, the term "collective body" was now used in reference to leadership policy. One 1981 amendment eliminated Tito's office of president for life of the republic, the functions of which devolved to the nine-member rotating State Presidency.

The Twelfth Party Congress of 1982, the first without Tito, was expected to lay new political ground and provide strong direction. But all progress was blocked by the familiar regional stalemate between the centralizers and the decentralizers within the party. With no strong figure to act as ultimate arbiter, the Twelfth Congress began a new stage of strident, fruitless debate in the LCY. Significantly, the centralizers now based their position not on the Leninist idea of the party as national vanguard, but on the pragmatic argument that the country would collapse economically without strong, central leadership. Throughout the 1980s, Serbia was the foremost exponent of stronger federal government while Slovenia and Croatia were the foremost exponents of regional autonomy. With some variation, the same division defined national debate on many other issues.

Data as of December 1990