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Yugoslavia: Breaking with the Soviet Union
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Political Evolution After 1945 > Breaking with the Soviet Union


Several years before World War II, Tito had survived Josef Stalin's purge of Yugoslav communists in the Soviet Union. In fact, Stalin had sent him back to Yugoslavia to reinvigorate the party there. After the war, Tito was able to unite the country because his leadership of the Partisan became the postwar ruling class of Yugoslavia.

In 1948 Yugoslavia received international attention as the first country to break from Stalin's monolithic communist bloc, and the country subsequently maintained an independent foreign policy that made it a prototypical postwar "nonaligned nation." Shortly after his break with Stalin, Tito began a process of guaranteeing political equality to the constituent republics. At that time, Tito deemed a degree of regional autonomy necessary to maintain his own internal political support, because the external backing of the communist bloc no longer provided legitimacy to his regime.

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. Tito refused to make his country fully subservient to the Soviet bloc, however, and in 1948 Stalin ejected Yugoslavia from the Cominform (Communist Information Bureau -- see Glossary). From that time, Tito fashioned an independent political leadership that soon moved away from the rigid state domination of Stalinism.

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.

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

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