The beginning of the end of Federal Yugoslavia: the Slovenian amendment crisis of 1989

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The beginning of the end of Federal Yugoslavia: the Slovenian amendment crisis of 1989
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  The Carl Beck Papers in Russian & East European Studies Numb er 10 01 セ   THE CEN TER FOR R US SI N EA ST EU RO PEAN ST UDIE S U N IV E RS I T Y OF PITT SBURGH Robert M.Hayden The Beginning of the End of Federal Y ugosla via The Slovenian Amendment Crisis of 989 J  Th e Carl Beck Papers in Russian & East E uropea n Studies Numb er 100 1 Robert M. H ayde n The Beginning of the End of Federal Y ugosla via The Slovenian Amendment Crisis of 1989 &EES H E CENTER FOR RUSS I AN Ill: E AS T EU RO PE AN STU DIES UNIV ERS ITY OF PITT SB URGH  Robert M. Hayden is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh. He holds degrees in both Anthropology and Law. His research interests have taken him to India and Yugoslavia numerous times to conduct field work. In 1990-91 Hayden was a Fulbright Distinguished Professor at the University of Belgrade. He is the author of Social Courts in Theory and Practice: Yugoslav Workers' Courts in Comparative Perspective (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990). December 1992 ISSN 08899-275X The Carl Beck Papers Editors: William Chase, Bob Donnorununo, Ronald H. Linden Assistant Editors: Mitchell Bjerke, Martha Snodgrass Cover design : Mike Savitski Submissions to The Carl Beck Papers are welcome. Manuscripts must be in English, double-spaced throughout, and less than 120 pages in length. Acceptance is based on anonymous review. Mail submissions to: Editor, The Carl Beck Papers, Center for Russian and East European Studies, 40-21 Forbes Quadrangle, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.  Introduction War broke out in Yugoslavia in the summer of 1991. Like the American war of 1861-65, this war could be interpreted as either a civil war or a war between states. And like the American Civil War , the Yugoslav war of 1991 was the ultimate manifestation of a constitutional crisis, a collapse of constitutional mechanisms for resolving political disputes that produced a showdown over the continued existence of the federal state. In another parallel to the American Civil War, the structure of the conflict was determined by a constitution some of the parties rejected, for the constitutional order that existed until the outbreak of the war had been a loose union of states (in Yugoslav terminology, republics), each of which possessed a fully organized government. Thus, despite the breakdown of the constitutional order of relationships between these republics, their constitutional status as separate polities afforded secessionists the opportunity to manipulate fully developed state structures in their quests for independence from the federation that had hitherto defined those states (Bestor 1964:328-29). Viewing the Yugoslav civil war as a constitutional crisis may seem naive in light of the longstanding tensions among the different national groups comprising the country, which had made Yugoslavia a tenuous, uncertain state since its inception in 1918 (Banac 1984; Djilas 1991). It is tempting to see the breakdown of federal Yugoslavia as the inevitable result of those national tensions, once the overarching structure of the one-party state, which had served to bind them together, was removed. Yet to stress only those nationalisms is to distort the reality of political, social and economic life in Yugoslavia in the critical years 1989-91. After seven decades of common existence, Yugoslavia contained many cross-cutting ties. As most economists noted, the Yugoslav economy was so tightly intertwined that it could not be broken into its republican components without causing severe disruptions of supplies and markets. In the rnid-1980s, 12 percent of marriages in the country were contracted between people of different (Yugoslav) nationalities, with 30 percent in the autonomous province of Vojvodina and 17.5 percent in the republic of Croatia 1  (Vreme, 11 March 1991:32). Since some parts of Croatia are almost completely inhabited by a single nationality, most of these "mixed" marriages were probably in cities like Zagreb and in the regions inhabited by both Serbs and Croats (e.g., Banija and Slavonija), giving these regions much higher rates of intermarriage, and thus giving the lie to the idea of "inherent hatred" between the two groups. The number of people who declared their nationality to be "Yugoslav" (as opposed to Serb, Croat or the other Yugoslav nationalities) had increased fourfold between 1971 and 1981, with indications that young people, particularly, were identifying themselves as Yugoslavs even in the economically unstable 1980s, as the result of increased interethnic contact and education (Burg and Berbaum 1989). I The potential political importance of these cross-cutting ties for postcommunist Yugoslavia could be seen in public opinion polls in the spring of 1990. These polls found the federal Prime Minister , Ante Markovic, to be the single most popular politician in the country, and his government's economic program to have the support of 79 percent of the people of Yugoslavia, albeit with regional variations (Bosnia-Herzegovina, 93%; Croatia, 83%; Vojvodina and Macedonia, each 89%; Serbia, 81%; Slovenia, 59%; Kosovo, 42%) (Borba, 26 July 1990:1, 12; Vjesnik, 26 July 1990:3). An earlier poll had found Markovic to be more popular than the recently elected presidents of Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia, even within those republics (Borba, 21 May 1990:7). Despite this popularity, however, Markovic's government suffered a steady decline in influence and power throughout 1990 and into 1991. In part, this decline was due to the failure of Markovic's political party to capture many seats in any republic in the elections of 1990 (Rusinow 1991:8-9). Instead, the voters in Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina chose nationalist parties, while in Slovenia and Croatia, nationalist[ic] governments had been elected before Markovic had formed his party . However , even in the latter two republics , popular sentiment for secession from Yugoslavia was, at the time of the elections, uncertain. In Croatia, a poorly written electoral law gave the Croatian Democratic Union (Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica, or HDZ) a huge parliamentary majority with only 2
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