People's Radical Party
|Leader||Nikola Pašić (1881–1926)|
|Founded||8 January 1881|
The People's Radical Party (Serbian: Народна радикална странка, Narodna radikalna stranka) was a political party in the Kingdom of Serbia and Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia) formed on 8 January 1881. The party published its programme in the paper Samouprava. It was abolished in 1929 during King Alexander's dictatorship.
The founding of the party was related to the circle of Serbian youth followers of Svetozar Marković and Nikola Pašić in Zurich. The leaders of this group proposed a political programme in which they called for:
- a change of constitution
- freedom of the press and open politics
- judicial independence
- reform of the education system
- enhanced local self-government
The first main assembly of the People's Radical Party was in July 1882 in Kragujevac. At this assembly, the Radical's programme, inspired by the French Radicalism, was adopted, and Nikola Pašić was elected as the president of the central committee. At this point the Radical party had its own daily (Samouprava, "Self-Government")which was critical of the ruling monarchy, demanding democracy, public liberties and liberal reforms of the bureaucratic system. The Radical leaders, mostly Swiss and French-educated (Nikola Pašić, Pera Todorović, Pera Velimirović, Jovan Đaja, Andra Nikolić, etc.) with other urban and provincial elites (Stojan Protić, Lazar Paču, Dimitrije Katić, Sava Grujič), were the first that successfully mobilized Serbian peasantry and the provincial middle classes (including teachers, peasant leaders and priests). Among others, Radicals attracted important intellectuals, diplomats and university professor, such as Milovan Milovanović, Milenko Vesnić, Mihailo Vujić, Đorđe S. Simić, Jovan M. Žujović and others.
In September 1883, the Timok Rebellion broke out in eastern Serbia when king Milan Obrenović declared that peasants' arms should be confiscated by the army. The king charged the Radicals that with their article Disarmament of the peoples' army in Samouprava, they had encouraged the peasants to refuse to give up their weapons. The rebellion was set down in ten days. Most of the party head committee were captured in the aftermath, apart from Pašić himself and a few others who escaped to the Principality of Bulgaria. The regime sentenced many of these Radicals to death, including those who in absentia. However, after some time, amnesty was given to certain Radicals who made an agreement to enter into Obrenović's government in 1887.
The Radicals were instrumental in the adoption of the 1888 Serbian Constitution, that established parliamentary democracy, in almost full compliance with their political programme. Parliamentary rule was introduced, rights were guaranteed as well as the freedom of citizens and local self-government. Radicals disposed, after 1889, with almost 80 percent of popular vote. The Radicals were ardent supporters of unification of all Serb-inhabited lands in the Balkans and adopted the slogan "Balkans to the Balkan nations". In foreign policy, strongly anti-Austrian, they were mostly Russophile and Francophile, supporting the French-Russian Alliance and Entente Powers.
After the compromise with the Crown in 1901, the younger group within the People's Radical Party formed a dissident faction in 1901 that in 1905, afer failed reconciliation efforts with Nikola Pašić emerged as a new political party under the name of Independent Radical Party led by Ljubomir Stojanović and Ljubomir Davidović, that was in power only in 1905-06. After the Great War, Independent Radicals were transformed into the Republican and Democratic Party.
After the return of the Karađorđević dynasty to the throne of Serbia in 1903 (following the May Overthrow), under the newly elected king Peter I Karađorđević, a single chamber National Assembly was introduced, and the new 1903 Constitution was slightly revised version of the 1888 Constitution, annulled by Aleksandar I Obrenović in 1894. Serbia became a parliamentary and constitutional monarchy. After the revolutionary government in 1903, the Radicals of Nikola Pašić formed several governments that began the important reforms of the nation.
The Radical governments led the Kingdom of Serbia through its Golden Age (1903-1914), as well as through the First World War. An organisation known as the Yugoslav Committee signed the Corfu Declaration in 1917 with Nikola Pašić, which called for the formation of a South Slavic state. After the war, the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs was formed from lands previously part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by the Croatian Parliament and others. However, the State did not last long as Prince Alexander, citing the Corfu Declaration, declared the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The Croatian Parliament voted to incorporate itself into the National Assembly of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, and was represented by it henceforth. The representatives of the National Assembly agreed to merge with the Kingdom of Serbia.
While nominally a multi-ethnic state, the Kingdom's prime ministers from 1918 to 1928 were exclusively Serbian with the People's Radical Party holding the prime ministry for eight of those years. In the National Assembly, outdated electoral rules and Yugoslav police actions against opponents of the regime favoured the Radical Party. For example, in the 1923 elections the party received a quarter of the kingdom's vote, but due to census results dating from 1910, Serbia was assigned a greater representation and the Radical Party took just over a third of the Assembly's seats.
After Pašić's death in 1926, Aca Stanojević became the party's president. In 1929, King Alexander declared a personal rule banning the People's Radical Party and others. Certain members of the party entered into Alexander's governments, while Stanojević called for the end of the royal dictatorship and the return to parliamentary democracy and local self-government.
- Alex N. Dragnich, Nikola Pašić, Serbia and Yugoslavia, New Brunswick, New Jersey 1974.
- Alex N.Dragnich, The Development of Parliamentary Government in Serbia, East European Monographs, Boulder Colorado 1978.
- Michael Boro Petrovich, The History of Modern Serbia 1804-1918, 2 vols. I-II, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York 1976.
- Gale Stokes, Politics as Development. The Emergence of Political Parties in Nineteenth-Century Serbia, Durham and London, Duke University Press 1990.
- Milan St.Protić, «The French Radical Movement and the Radical party in Serbia. A Parallel Analysis of Ideologies», in: Richard B. Spence, Linda L. Nelson (eds.), Scholar, Patriot, Mentor. Historical Essays in Honor of Dimitrije Djordjević, East European Monographs, Boulder Colorado 1992.
- Dušan T. Bataković (dir), Histoire du peuple serbe, Lausanne, L'Age d'Homme 2005.