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Yugoslavia Table of Contents


State Presidency

Also represented in the federal councils was the third major organ of the Yugoslav national government, the collective State Presidency. Formed by Tito in 1970 to provide all-Yugoslav negotiation of interregional conflicts, the Presidency became the symbolic replacement for Tito's position as head of state. By 1989 it had evolved from the original twenty-three-member group to an eight-member group, one member of which was elected from each republic and province. A ninth, ex-officio post was held by the president of the LCY Central Committee until late 1988, when the position was abolished to reduce party interference in state institutions. Most republics and provinces elected their representatives to the Presidency in their assemblies, but in 1989 Bosnia-Hercegovina, Montenegro, and Slovenia held direct popular elections for this post. The position of president rotated yearly, to provide even distribution among the republican and provincial representatives. Beginning with the 1989 president, the Slovene Janez Drnovsek, the "presidency of the Presidency" was to rotate among the republics and provinces in the following order: Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Vojvodina, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Bosnia-Hercegovina, through 1997.

The 1974 Constitution named the State Presidency as "supreme body in charge of administration and command of the armed forces," as well as the main administrator of foreign policy and adviser on domestic policy. The State Presidency controlled its constitutionally prescribed domains through working bodies known as Councils of the Presidency. Among these were councils for foreign policy, defense, state security, and protection of the constitutional order. In practice, the State Presidency deliberated informally, consulting regularly with representatives of other government bodies and developing positions by consensus rather than by the majority vote prescribed in the Constitution. It also met regularly with the LCY Presidium and regional presidencies. Because its members had no bureaucratic responsibility, and because of the prestige left to the institution by Tito, the State Presidency was an important bargaining center for purely political issues that could not be resolved in the Federal Assembly or the FEC. It also initiated all temporary measures passed by the FEC. But the Presidency had no power to impose compromise; this was not an important weakness when Tito filled the position, but his successors lacked his personal influence.

Data as of December 1990