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Yugoslavia: Communist Takeover and Consolidation
Country Study > Chapter 1 > Historical Setting > Postwar Yugoslavia > Communist Takeover and Consolidation

COMMUNIST TAKEOVER AND CONSOLIDATION


The communists under Tito emerged from the war as sole rulers of Yugoslavia, without major Soviet assistance. King Petar surrendered his powers to a three-member regency in late 1944, and under Allied pressure Tito and Subasic agreed to merge their governments. On March 7, 1945, a single provisional Yugoslav government took office with Tito as prime minister and war minister, Subasic in charge of foreign affairs, and Tito supporters occupying almost all cabinet posts. A communist-dominated Provisional Assembly convened in August, and the government held elections to choose a Constituent Assembly in November. New election laws barred alleged wartime collaborators from voting and all candidates had to be nominated by the communist-controlled People's Front, the descendant of the wartime People's Liberation Front that encompassed all non-collaborationist political parties and organizations. The police harassed noncommunist politicians and suppressed their newspapers during the election campaign. Subasic and other non-communist ministers resigned in protest, while the Serbian Radicals, the Croatian Peasant Party, and other parties boycotted the election. People's Front candidates won 90 percent of the vote.

The newly elected Constituent Assembly dissolved the monarchy and established the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia on November 29, 1945. Two months later, it adopted a Soviet-style constitution that provided for a federation of six republics under a strong central government. In an effort to prevent Serbian domination of the new state, the regime made separate republics of Montenegro and Macedonia and created within Serbia itself an ethnically mixed Autonomous Province of Vojvodina and a mostly Albanian Autonomous Region of Kosovo. At a later date, the regime further divided Serbian territory by recognizing three "nations," the Serbs, Croats, and Muslims, in an attempt to overcome competing Serbian and Croatian claims to that republic. The constitution established a rubber-stamp Federal Assembly and a presidential council to administer the federal government. It also included restricted wording on the inviolability of the home, the right to work, freedom of speech, association, and religion, and other rights. Tito headed the party, government, and armed forces; his party functionaries oversaw the industries and supervised republican and local officials.

Tito's government repaired wartime damage, instituted land reform, and established a Soviet-style economic system. United Nations deliveries of supplies prevented starvation and contagion but did not solve the fundamental problem of rural poverty. In August 1945, the regime seized remaining large and medium-size land holdings along with property belonging to banks, churches, monasteries, absentee landlords, private companies, and the expelled German minority. It gave half the land to peasants and allocated the rest to state-owned enterprises. The authorities postponed forced collectivization but required peasants to sell any surplus to the state at below-market prices. Peasants received incentives to join newly founded state and cooperative farms. The Communists quickly implemented the Stalinist model for rapid industrial development; by 1948 they had nationalized virtually all the country's wealth except privately held land. State planners set wages and prices and compiled a grandiose five-year plan that emphasized exploitation of domestic raw materials, development of heavy industry, and economic growth in underdeveloped regions. The Yugoslavs relied on tax and price policies, reparations, Soviet credits, and export of foodstuffs, timber, mineral, and metal exports to generate capital. They redirected the bulk of their trade toward the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Between 1945 and 1948, the government punished wartime collaborators. British forces in Austria captured Ustase members and Croatian and Slovenian collaborators along with innocent refugees. These were returned to Yugoslavia, where Partisans summarily executed thousands of innocent and guilty prisoners. The regime also imprisoned thousands of Cetnici and executed Mihajlovic and other Cetnik leaders as collaborators after a show trial in 1946.

The Communists often used collaboration charges to stifle political and religious opposition, as well as economic and social initiatives. The Roman Catholic Church bitterly opposed the new order. After the war, the authorities executed over 200 priests and nuns charged with participating in Ustase atrocities. Archbishop Stepinac protested government excesses and the secularization of education, institution of civil marriage, and confiscation of church lands. In September 1946, the regime sentenced him to imprisonment for sixteen years for complicity with the Pavelic government. He served five years before the regime released him. Yugoslav-Vatican relations deteriorated during the imprisonment of Stepinac, and the government severed them in 1952 when Pope Pius XII named Stepinac a cardinal. The authorities permitted the funeral and burial of Stepinac in Zagreb in 1960, after which Yugoslav-Vatican relations gradually improved until diplomatic relations were reestablished in 1970.

Data as of December 1990




Last Updated: December 1990


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Yugoslavia was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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