Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) was the supreme law of S.F.R. Yugoslavia
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the abolition of the Yugoslav monarchy until it was dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,...

 and its predecessor, the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia (FPRY).

Federal constitutions

This federal
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

 was revised several times since first being drafted after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. These revisions were as follows:
  • Constitution of FPRY, adopted on January 31, 1946
  • Constitutional Law of the FPRY, adopted on January 13, 1953
  • Constitution of SFRY, adopted on April 7, 1963
  • Constitution of SFRY, adopted on February 21, 1974

1946 Constitution

Tito's first constitution (1946) was modeled on the Soviet constitution. This constitution included direct Communist Party control over all aspects of state activity, no recognition of the constituent republics as political entities, and no stipulation of individual civil liberties.

1953 Constitution

The Sixth Communist Party Congress (1952) was a watershed of Yugoslav political change, driven primarily by the need to prove that Yugoslavia could create a form of socialism superior to the Stalinist version from which it had recently split. In that meeting, liberal forces led by Milovan Djilas (a long-time close adviser of Tito) created a constitution that partially separated party and state political functions and restored some political rights to the constituent republics and some civil rights to individuals. At that time, constitutional foundations were also built for workers' control over enterprises and expanded local government power. The Federal People's Assembly established by the 1953 constitution contained two houses--a Federal Chamber, directly representing the regions, and a Chamber of Producers, representing economic enterprises and worker groups. The federal government executive branch (the Federal Executive Council, FEC) included only the five ministries dealing with national affairs and foreign policy. Foreign policy became the most important function of the FEC. The Communist Party retained exclusive political control, based on the Leninist credo that the state bureaucracy would wither away, and that a multiparty system would only bring more cumbersome bureaucratic institutions.

Through the remainder of the 1950s, the economic decentralization of the 1953 constitution increased friction among the republics, which sought advantages in national allocation and resource redistribution policy. By 1960 this friction generated a new wave of constitutional change, aimed at preserving regional autonomy while restoring economic policy decisions to the federal level.

1963 Constitution

The regional divisions that prompted constitutional change also delayed concrete action by two years, as the constitution's framers sought language satisfactory to all political factions. By 1963 a new constitution had been prepared under the guidance of Eduard Kardelj, Tito's chief theoretician, with substantial input from liberal legal scholars. The new document reflected the perceived need for recentralization: the parliamentary Federal Assembly (Skupstina) was divided into one general chamber, the Federal Chamber, and four chambers given specific bureaucratic responsibilities. In an effort to end regional conflict and promote national representation of the Yugoslav people, the constitution directed that individual republics be represented only in the Chamber of Nationalities, a part of the Federal Chamber. This provision was especially important in ensuring continued contributions from all regions to federal development funds for the poorer republics.

Other provisions of the new constitution increased decentralization instead of reducing it. Tito retained his position as president of the federation but renounced his state position as president of the Federal Executive Council, a change that further separated party and state functions. The 1963 constitution also introduced the concept of rotation, which prohibited the holding of higher or lower level executive positions for more than two four-year terms. Other notable provisions extended human and civil rights and established constitutionally guaranteed court procedures. All these provisions were unique among the constitutional systems of contemporaneous communist states.

1974 Constitution

The 1974 Constitution, which remained in effect through the end of the 1980s, only partially reversed the extreme decentralization of the early 1970s. With 406 original articles, it was one of the longest constitutions in the world. It added elaborate language protecting the self-management system from state interference and expanding representation of republics and provinces in all electoral and policy forums. The Constitution called the restructured Federal Assembly the highest expression of the self-management system. Accordingly, it prescribed a complex electoral procedure for that body, beginning with the local labor and political organizations. Those bodies were to elect communelevel assemblies, which then would elect assemblies at province and republic level; finally, the latter groups would elect the members of the two equal components of the Federal Assembly, the Federal Chamber and the Chamber of Republics and Provinces. Like its predecessor, the 1974 Constitution tried to refine the balance between economic and ethnic diversity on one hand, and the communist ideal of social unity on the other.

The new Constitution also reduced the State Presidency from twenty-three to nine members, with equal representation for each republic and province and an ex-officio position for the president of the League of Communists. The party tried to reactivate its role in guiding national policy through automatic inclusion of the party chief in the State Presidency. That practice was discontinued in 1988, when the political climate called for further separation of party and state functions. This reduced the State Presidency to eight members. The 1974 Constitution also expanded protection of individual rights and court procedures, with the all-purpose caveat that no citizen could use those freedoms to disrupt the prescribed social system. Finally, Kosovo and Vojvodina, the two constituent provinces of Serbia, received substantially increased autonomy, including de facto veto power in the Serbian parliament. This change became a turbulent issue of inter-republican debate in post-Tito Yugoslavia.

The constitution also proclaimed Marshal
Marshal of Yugoslavia
Marshal of Yugoslavia was the highest rank of Yugoslav People's Army , and, simultaneously, a Yugoslav honorific title...

 Josip Broz Tito
Josip Broz Tito
Marshal Josip Broz Tito – 4 May 1980) was a Yugoslav revolutionary and statesman. While his presidency has been criticized as authoritarian, Tito was a popular public figure both in Yugoslavia and abroad, viewed as a unifying symbol for the nations of the Yugoslav federation...

 president for life
President for Life
President for Life is a title assumed by some dictators to remove their term limit, in the hope that their authority, legitimacy, and term will never be disputed....


Provincial constitutions

The constitutional system of the former Yugoslavia consisted of the federal constitution and the constitutions of its republics and autonomous provinces. At first only the people's republic
People's Republic
People's Republic is a title that has often been used by Marxist-Leninist governments to describe their state. The motivation for using this term lies in the claim that Marxist-Leninists govern in accordance with the interests of the vast majority of the people, and, as such, a Marxist-Leninist...

s had their constitutions:
  • People's Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, adopted on December 31, 1946
  • People's Republic of Macedonia, adopted on December 31, 1946
  • People's Republic of Montenegro, adopted on December 31, 1946
  • People's Republic of Slovenia, adopted on January 16, 1947
  • People's Republic of Serbia, adopted on January 17, 1947
  • People's Republic of Croatia, adopted on January 18, 1947

Constitutions of successor states

The federation Yugoslavia's successor states adopted their own constitutions:
  • Constitution of Croatia
    Constitution of Croatia
    The current Constitution of the Republic of Croatia was adopted by the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia on December 22, 1990. It replaced the Constitution of 1974 ratified in socialist Yugoslavia...

  • Constitution of Serbia
    Constitution of Serbia
    The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia is Serbia's fundamental law. The current constitution was approved in a constitutional referendum, held from on 28–29 October 2006...

  • Constitution of Slovenia
    Constitution of Slovenia
    The Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia was adopted by the Slovenian National Assembly on December 23, 1991. The document is divided into ten chapters:# General Provisions# Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms# Economic and Social Relations...

Constitutional documents were also drafted for Bosnia and Herzegovina
Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the highest legal document of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The current Constitution is the Annex 4 of The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also known as the Dayton Agreement, signed in Paris on 14 December 1995...

 and Macedonia
Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia
The Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia is a codified constitution outlining the country's system of government and basic human rights.In 2001 it was announced that Macedonia had adopted a new Constitution which enshrined 15 basic rights and has granted rights to the country's ethnic Albanian...


Predecessor states

Moreover, Communist Yugoslavia's predecessor states, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
Kingdom of Yugoslavia
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a state stretching from the Western Balkans to Central Europe which existed during the often-tumultuous interwar era of 1918–1941...

 and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Kingdom of Yugoslavia
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a state stretching from the Western Balkans to Central Europe which existed during the often-tumultuous interwar era of 1918–1941...

 each had its own constitution, adopted in 1921 and 1931, respectively.

The unilateral proclamation of successorship by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and later Serbia and Montenegro
Serbia and Montenegro
Serbia and Montenegro was a country in southeastern Europe, formed from two former republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia : Serbia and Montenegro. Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, it was established in 1992 as a federation called the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia...

 was not recognized internationally. Those constituent countries of the former SFRY adopted their constitutions in 1992 and 2003, respectively.

External links

  • Ustav SFRJ (1974) - text of the 1974 constitution
  • Ustava SFRJ (1974) - text of the 1974 constitution
  • Ustav SFRJ (1974) - text of the 1974 constitution
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