- Stjepan Radić
Stjepan Radić (
11 June 1871– 8 August 1928) was a Croatian politicianand the founder of the Croatian Peasant Party(CPP, "Hrvatska Seljačka Stranka") in 1905. Radić is credited with galvanizing the peasantry of Croatiainto a viable political force. Throughout his entire career, he was opposed to the union and, later, Serb hegemonyin the first Yugoslaviaand became an important political figure in that country. He was assassinated by a Serb politician in the parliament, an act which even further alienated the Croats and the Serbs.
Lead up to the first Yugoslavia
Stjepan was born in Trebarjevo Desno, near
Sisak, Croatia(then Austria-Hungary). After World War Ihe rose to political prominence among Croatsfor his opposition to merging Croatia with the Kingdom of Serbiawithout guarantees for Croatian . On 24 November 1918he famously urged delegates attending a session that would decide the country's political future not to "rush like drunken geeseinto fog" — he feared that Croatia would become at best a minor partner within a Serb-dominated state.
Under the pressure from the
Great powers( British Empire, France, United States), as well as honouring the secret deals that were struck between the Entente and the Kingdom of Serbia, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Sloveneswas established and two representatives of Radić's party (by then named the Croatian Common-people Peasant Party) were appointed to the Provisional Representation which served as a parliamentuntil elections for the Constituent could be held. The parties representatives, however, decided not to take their seats.
On the 8th of March 1919 the central committee passed a resolution that declared that "Croatian citizens do not recognize the so called
Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenesunder the Karađorđevićdynasty because this kingdom was proclaimed other than by the Croatian Saborand without any mandate of the Croatian People." The full statement was translated into French and sent abroad and provoked a decision by the government to arrest Radić along with several other party members.
He was to be held some 11 months until February 1920, just before the first parliamentary elections of the Kingdom of SHS, which were held in November. The result of the November was 230,590 votes, which equaled to 50 seats in the parliament out of 419. Before the first sitting of parliament, after a massive
rallyheld in front of 100,000 people in Zagreb, Stjepan Radić and the CCPP (which after the rally changed the party's name to CRPP - Croatian Republican Peasant Party) held and extraordinary meeting, in which a motion was put forward and voted on that the CRPP will not be part of parliamentary discussions before matters are first resolved with Serbia on the matters of governance, the most sticking issues being the minorisation of the Croatian people and the overt powers of the King with the central government in Belgrade.
The new Constitution
On the 12th of December 1920, the Parliament of SHS had their first sitting, without the representatives of CPP (50 representatives) and the Croatian Party of Rights (2 representatives). On the 28th of June 1921, the Constitution of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (
Vidovdanski ustav, or VidovdanConstitution)was made law after a vote of 223 representatives out of the present 285, the total number representatives in the parliament being 419, which is only 53.2% of the possible votes, or if looked at the number of present representatives it is a more impressive 78.24%. The representatives turnout and subsequent vote is quite poor considering that it was a constitutive parliament, which was supposed to have created the new constitution.
In the next parliamentary elections, which were held in March 1923, the stance of Stjepan Radić and the CPP against the central government managed to turn into extra votes. The results of the election were, 70 seats or 473.733 votes, which represented the majority of the Croatian vote in Northern and Southern parts of Croatia, as well as the Croatian votes in Bosnia, as well as Herzegovina.
Radić still held on to the idea of an independent Croatia, and kept the party out of parliament in protest. This in effect afforded Serbian prime minister
Nikola Pašićthe opportunity to consolidate power and strengthen his Serb-dominated government. Returning from an unsanctioned overseas trip in 1923 in which Stjepan Radić visited England (for 5 months), Austria(5 months) and the Soviet Union(2 months). upon his return in 1924, Radić was arrested in Zagreb and sentenced for associating with Soviet Communists and imprisoned. The trip was used for the purpose of internationalising the plight of Croatians in the Kingdom of SHS.
After his release, Stjepan Radić soon reentered politics, but this was not without problems. On the 23rd of December, the Serb dominated central government declared that the political party CRPP was in contravention of the Internal security law of 1921 in the infamous
Obznanadeclaration, and this was confirmed by King Alexander on the 1st of January 1924, thus arresting the CRPP executive on the 2nd of January 1925, and finally arresting Stjepan Radić on the 5th of January.
In the early 1920s the Yugoslav government of prime minister
Nikola Pasicused police pressure over voters and ethnic minorities, confiscation of opposition pamphlets [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,846181,00.html Balkan Politics] , " TIME Magazine", March 31, 1923] and other measures of election rigging to keep the opposition in minority in Yugoslav parliament. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,719894,00.html Elections] , " TIME Magazine", February 23, 1925] Pasic believed that Yugoslavia should be as centralized as possible, creating in place of distinct regional governments and identities a Greater Serbian national concept of concentrated power in the hands of Belgrade. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,720153,00.html The Opposition] , " TIME Magazine", April 06, 1925]
After the parliamentary elections in February 1925, the CRPP even with its whole executive team behind bars, and with only Stjepan Radić at its helm, CRPP managed to win 67 parliamentary with at total of 532,872 votes. Even though the vote count was higher than the previous election, the careful carving up of the electoral boundaries by the central government ensured that CRPP received less parliamentary seats. In order to increase his negotiating power the CRPP entered into a
coalitionwith the Democratic party (Demokratska stranka), Slovenian peoples party (Slovenska ljudska stranka) and the Yugoslav MuslimOrganisation (Jugoslavenska muslimanska organizacija).
Return to the parliament
Immediately after the parliamentary elections in March 1925, the CRPP changed the party name to
Croatian Peasant Party(Hrvatska seljačka stranka). With the backing of the coalition partners, the CPP made an agreement with the major conservative Serbian party - the People's Radical Party(Narodna radikalna stranka), in which a powersharing arrangement was struck, as well as a deal to release the CPP executive from jail. The CPP had to make certain concessions like recognising the central government and the rule of the monarch, as well as the Vidovdan constitution in front of the full parliament on 27 March 1925. Stjepan Radić was made the Minister for Education, where as other CPP party members obtained ministerial posts: Pavle Radić, dr. Nikola Nikić, dr. Benjamin Šuperinaand dr. Ivan Krajač. This powersharing arrangement was cut short after the passing away of the president of the Peoples Radical Party, Nikola Pašić, on 10 December1925.
Radić soon resigned his ministerial post in 1926 and returned to the opposition, and in 1927 entered into a coalition with
Svetozar Pribićević, president of the Independent Democratic Party, a leading party of the Serbs in Croatia. The Peasant-Democrat coalition had a real chance to end the Radicals' long-time stranglehold control of the Parliament. Previously they had long been opponents, but the Democrats became disillusioned with the Belgrade bureaucracyand restored good relations with the Peasant Party with which they were allies in the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. With this arrangement, Stjepan Radić managed to obtain a parliamentary majority in 1928. However, he was not able to form a government. The Peasant-Democrat coalition was opposed by some of the Croatian elite, like Ivo Andrić, who even regarded the followers of the CPP as "...fools following a blind dog..." (the blind dog being Stjepan Radić).
Assassination in the parliament
With the power of the Radical Party now weakened, and the Peasant-Democratic coalition not being able to form a government, the environment in the parliament had became increasingly unstable, contentious and provocational on ethnic lines. Provocations and accusations flew on both sides, in one such session Radić answered one of the provocations with the following: "Our Serbian friends are always reminding us of the price they paid in the war. I would like to invite them to tabulate the costs, so we may square accounts and be on our way.".
Death threats and threats of violent beatings were made against Stjepan Radić in parliament, without any intervention by the president of the Assembly ( Parliamentary speaker). On the morning of June 20, 1928, Radić was warned of the danger of an assassinationattempt against him and was begged to stay away from the Assembly for that day. He replied that he was like a soldier in war, in the trenches and as such it was his duty to go but he nevertheless promised not to utter a single word.
In the Assembly,
Puniša Račić, a member of Serbian People's Radical Partyfrom Montenegro, got up and made a provocative speech which produced a stormy reaction from the opposition but Radić himself stayed completely silent. Finally, Ivan Pernarshouted, "thou plundered beys" (referring to accusations of corruption related to him). At this, Puniša Račić drew out a revolver, shot Pernar and went on to shoot Radić and several other CPP delegates. [Zvonimir Kulundžić: "Atentat na Stjepana Radića" ("The assassination of Stjepan Radić")] Radić was left for dead and indeed had such a serious stomachwound that he died several weeks later at the age of 57. His burial was massively attended and his death was seen as causing a permanent rift in Croat-Serb relations in the old Yugoslavia.
His assassin was "sentenced" to confinement in a luxury
villain Serbia, where he was tended to by servants.
Following the political crisis triggered by the shooting, in January 1929, King Aleksandar Karađorđević abolished the
constitution, dissolved parliament, and declared a royal dictatorship, changing the country into the first Yugoslavia and oppressing national sentiments.
Radić is buried in the
Mirogojcemetery in Zagreb.
Radić's violent death turned him into a martyr and he was turned into an icon of political struggle for the peasantry and the working class, as well as an icon of Croatian patriots. The iconography of Stjepan Radić was later used not only by his successor
Vladko Maček, but also by other political options in Croatia: right wing or left wing.
Ustašeused the death of Stjepan Radić as proof of Serbian hegemony, and as an excuse for their treatment of Serbs, however many leading CPP figures were imprisoned or killed by the Ustashe to whome they were political opponents. The Partisans on the other hand, used this as a recruiting point with CPP members who were disillusioned with the Independent State of Croatia, and latter had one brigade named after Antun and Stjepan Radić in 1943.
The image of Stjepan Radić was used extensively during the
Croatian Springmovement in the early 1970s. There are many folk groups, clubs, primary and secondary schools which bear the name of Stjepan Radić. Many Croatian cities have streets, squares in his name and statues of Stjepan Radić are common. The picture of Stjepan Radić appears on the 200 kuna banknote.
In 1997, a poll in Croatian weekly Nacional named Stjepan Radić as the most admired Croatian historic personality.
* [http://www.magma.ca/%7Erendic/radic.htm Stjepan Radić]
* [http://www.croatianstudies.org/index.php?action=page&id=61 Another Biography of Radić]
* [http://www.hss.hr/onama/povijest.php The history of the Croatian Peasant Party]
* [http://www.magma.ca/%7Erendic/radic.jpgPicture of Radić]
* [http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5f/Kuna_200.jpgThe Croatian 200 kn bill with Stjepan Radić]
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Stjepan Radić — Stjepan Radić, el año de su muerte. Stjepan Radić (11 de junio de 1871 8 de agosto de 1928), político croata, fundador del Partido Campesino Croata (CPP,Hrvatska Seljačka stranka) en 1905. Radić logró reunir al campesinado de … Wikipedia Español
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