Croatian Peasant Party

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Croatian Peasant Party

 

(CPP; Hrvatska Pučka Seljačka Stranka), founded in 1904 by the brothers A. Radić and S. Radić. In 1905 the party adopted a program calling for political freedom, the enfranchisement of all independent farmers, and the abolition of the class privileges of the aristocracy. In the early 1900’s the CPP leaders developed the ideas of a unified peasant class, a peasant democracy, and a classless peasant state. They called for broad autonomy for Croatia in financial and economic matters, the unification of the Croatian lands, and the transformation of the Hapsburg Empire into a federation. The party advocated Croatian-Serbian cooperation but only on the condition that the national movement remain loyal to the unity of the empire and to the Hapsburg dynasty.

During World War I the CPP abandoned its Austro-Slavism and set as its goal Croatian autonomy and equality within a united South Slavic (Yugoslav) state. After the establishment of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes in December 1918 (Yugoslavia from 1929), the CPP opposed the centralizing policy of the Serbian bourgeoisie, which aspired to create a Greater Serbia. At a congress held in Zagreb in February 1919 the party called for the creation of a republic (it was known as the Croatian Republican Peasant Party from 1919 to 1925) and demanded the right to self-determination and agrarian reforms. The party won 50 seats in the elections to the Constituent Skupština (assembly) in November 1920 and 70 seats in the elections to the National Skupština in 1923, becoming the second largest party in the country, after the Serbian Radicals. When the party joined the Peasant International in 1924, the government took repressive measures, banning the party and arresting S. Radić. Displaying remarkable inconsistency, the party leaders entered into negotiations with the government and dropped their republican slogans. In July 1925 the CPP joined the Serbian Radicals in a coalition government, but it withdrew the next year in protest against the Greater Serbia policy of the government majority. At the end of 1927 the CPP and the Independent Democratic Party (founded 1924) formed a political bloc called the Peasant-Democratic Coalition.

After the establishment of a monarchist military dictatorship in Yugoslavia on Jan. 6, 1929, all political parties, including the CPP, were banned. Between 1929 and 1934 the CPP, now headed by V. Maček, was inactive. In 1935–36 it became the chief party of the Croatian bourgeoisie. In 1937, as a member of the Peasant-Democratic Coalition, the CPP participated in the formation of a coalition of bourgeois opposition parties popularly known as the Bloc of National Accord, which demanded the democratization of society.

In its efforts to secure autonomy for Croatia, the CPP sought the support of the Italian fascist regime. On Aug. 26, 1939, the party and the government of D. Cvetković concluded an agreement granting autonomy to Croatia. Maček became deputy prime minister in the Yugoslav government formed at that time. The party leadership approved the protocol signed by the Cvetković government on Mar. 25, 1941, marking Yugoslavia’s accession to the Berlin Pact. After the occupation of Yugoslavia by fascist troops in April 1941, the CPP virtually ceased to exist. Its reactionary wing joined the Ustaše (Ustashi), and its leftist elements fought in the National Liberation War in Yugoslavia (1941–45).

REFERENCE

Čulinović, F. Jugoslavia izmedu dva rata, vols. 1–2. Zagreb, 1961.

V. I. FREIDZON (to 1914) and V. K. VOLKOV

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