(Monographs of the "Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the 2010 edition.)
t the Third Session of ZAVNOBiH, which was held from April 26 to 28, 1945 in liberated Sarajevo and attended by 155 members of the 176, the following decision was made: “A Decision on amendments and supplements to the Decision on constituting the National Anti-Fascist Council of the People’s Liberation of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the highest legislative and executive people’s representative body of federal Bosnia and Herzegovina, issued on 1 July 1944,” by which the ZAVNOBiH was constituted into the People’s Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its Presidency into the Presidency of the People’s Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This meant the continuation of government building in peacetime; as a consequence the people’s liberation boards and assemblies, from local to regional levels, changed their names to the people’s boards and people’s assemblies of places, municipalities, counties, districts and regions, depending on the administrative-territorial division of Bosnia and Herzegovina. By the adoption of this Decision, the further work of the Third Session of the ZAVNOBiH was actually the beginning of the work of the first People’s Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina. All counsellors holding counsellor credentials for the Third Session of ZAVNOBiH became the first people’s representatives of the People’s Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and due to the impossibility of elections, an additional 44 representatives were co-opted into it. Therefore, the first People’s Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina had 220 people’s representatives. The Presidency of the ZAVNOBiH was renamed the Presidency of the People’s Assembly and counted 25 members. Dr. Vojislav Kecmanović was appointed President and Avdo Humo, dr. Jakov Grgurić and Đuro Pucar Vice-Presidents.
Although the Presidency was occasionally named the Presidium, it was given that name officially no earlier than the first Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina; this name was used in practice from the Third Session of the AVNOJ onwards. Upon constituting the Interim Government of Democratic Federal Yugoslavia on March 7, 1945, the requirements were satisfied for the establishment of the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Law on the People’s Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as the highest executive authority of the state government in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was enacted at the Third Session of the ZAVNOBiH. The People’s Government reported to the People’s Assembly, which unanimously mandated Rodoljub Čolaković with composing the first People’s Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The People’s Assembly changed the ZAVNOBiH’s July 1, 1944 Decision on forming a legislative board by passing the Law on the amendment of its second article and stipulating that the Legislative Board would comprise the President and the 10 members whom the People’s Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina would elect from its own members. Thus, by the Third Session of the ZAVNOBiH, which was also the first session of the People’s Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the state and representative authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina were established. Soon afterwards, on May 2, 1945, the people’s government of Bosnia and Herzegovina issued a Declaration with a program orientation which tackled issues important for peacetime development.
The next step in the development of Yugoslav Bosnia and Herzegovina state organization was the Third Session of the AVNOJ held on August 10, 1945, which transformed itself into the Interim People’s Assembly of Yugoslavia. A two-chamber Assembly best suited the federal system of the new state, so the Interim People’s Assembly decided that the Constitutional Assembly should have two Chambers: the Federal Assembly and the Assembly of Peoples.
In order to confirm all of the decisions rendered by that time, the Constitutional Assembly of Yugoslavia convened elections for November 11, 1945. The Election Law provided for active and passive voting rights to be universal and for equal suffrage for all citizens of Yugoslavia being of age, regardless of their sex, race, religion, education and place of residence. However, the comprehensive right to vote was restricted by the Law on Voting Lists, which excluded all those compromised with regard to the people’s liberation fight and the organizational principles of the revolutionary type of government. There were two ballot-boxes during the elections. One box was intended for voting papers related to the People’s Front of Yugoslavia’s main list with Josip Broz Tito as its bearer, which won 90.48% of the votes, and the other ballot-box, which was without a list and won 9.52% of the votes. These were the results for the Federal Assembly, and the results were similar for the Assembly of Peoples as well. From that time, one-party communist rule was introduced and lasted until the first multi-party elections in 1990.
The People’s Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was derived from the ZAVNOBiH, worked on strengthening the new people’s government, reconstruction of the country and on meeting the conditions for the election and convocation of the Constitutional Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The representatives for a single-chamber Constitutional Assembly were elected under the provisions of the Law on the Election of People’s Representatives for the Constitutional Assembly of the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The National Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina was tasked with organizing the elections, which were held on October 13, 1946.
Based on the number of inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the 1931 census, the National Election Commission decided that one representative should be elected per 15,000 persons, in accordance with the administrative-territorial division at the time into seven districts and the city of Sarajevo. The elections allowed voting for only one election list, that of the People’s Front, although there was another ballot-box known as the “blind eye” box and which did not refer to any particular list. 82.21% of registered voters voted while 17.79% abstained. The federative and federal laws on voting lists designated certain categories of the population who were expunged from the voting lists.
The Constitutional Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina was convened on November 11, 1946. One of its first tasks was to uphold all of the acts issued by the ZAVNOBiH, the Presidency and the People’s Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its Presidency. On December 31, 1946, the Constitutional Assembly adopted and ceremonially proclaimed the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then continued its work under the name of the People’s Assembly of the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. By that act, the development of all institutions required for the functioning of one out of the six federal units of the People’s Federative Republic began. It held eight regular and four unscheduled sessions. Over the course of administrative socialism until 1950, the political system was established, the country’s recovery began, the first fiveyear plan was adopted, Soviet hegemony was responded to, and the overall social life was strongly controlled. During these turbulent political developments, Đuro Pucar was the President of the Presidium of the People’s Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina from November 1946 to September 1948; after him, until December 1953, the office was held by Vlado Šegrt.
A new phase in the development of the Yugoslav and Bosnia and Herzegovina political system commenced with the adoption of the June 27, 1950 Basic Law on the Management of State Economic Enterprises and Higher Economic Associations by Working Collectives. This marked the beginning of workers’ self-management as a new form of management in a social-economic and political system, which was shaped by the constitutional reform in 1953. Consistent with federative laws, the Constitutional Law on the Foundations of the Social and Political System of the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic Authorities was enacted. This law changed the constitutional system of the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina relative to its first Constitution.
The elections for the second representative convocation of the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina People’s Assembly were held on December 3, 1950, under the Law on the Election of People’s Representatives to the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina People’s Assembly. Unlike the previous law, one people’s representative was elected per 10,000 inhabitants in accordance with the March 15, 1948 census and the assessed increase as of 1950. A total of 270 representatives from the regions and the city of Sarajevo were supposed to be elected in compliance with the administrative – territorial divisions at that time. The largest number of representatives were elected in the regions of Tuzla (81), Banja Luka (79), Sarajevo (57), Mostar (41) and the city of Sarajevo (12). Apart from the official list, the Law also foresaw the further existence of the “blind eye” ballot-box, that is, another listless box. There was also a novelty concerning the establishment of the election results, wherein absolute majority was introduced so that the elected candidate had to have more votes than all of the other candidates together. If this was not achieved in the first round, there was another voting round in which it was possible for a candidate to win with a relative majority of votes, that is, with the largest number of votes compared to other candidates. At these elections, the total percentage of registered voters was 97.08%, of whom approximately 98.5% voted for the candidates and 1.5% cast their ballot paper into the listless ballot-box. The People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina People’s Assembly elected in the elections of December 3, 1950 held six regular sessions until September 14, 1953, when it was dissolved.
The Constitutional Law on the Foundations of the Social and Political System of the FNRY and the Federal Authorities of January 13, 1953 was followed by the enactment of the Republic Constitutional laws. Thus, on January 29, 1953, the Constitutional Law on the Foundations of the Social and Political System of the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic Authorities was enacted. This Law considerably expanded the structure of the parliamentary bodies. The Federative Constitutional Law introduced changes in the establishment of the Parliament (FNRY People’s Assembly) so that, instead of the Federative Council and the Council of Peoples, the Federative Council and the Council of Producers were introduced. In order not to entirely lose the Council of Peoples, two groups of representatives were elected to the Federative Council. The first group was made up of representatives who were directly elected by citizens, one per 60,000 inhabitants, while the other group comprised representatives delegated by the Assemblies of the six Republics and two provinces. These delegates could have played a role in the Council of Peoples had constitutional issues been raised, and made decisions in the Federative Council on an equal footing. Pursuant to the Republic Constitutional Law, the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina People’s Assembly consisted of two Chambers: the Republic Council with 114 representatives and the Council of Producers with 82 representatives. Such an Assembly structure existed until the new Constitution in 1963. The Assembly elections were held from November 24 to 26, 1953.
Nt these elections, the rubber ball ballots were replaced by paper ballots on which only an ordinal number next to the name of one candidate could be circled.The election results were determined by relative majority with regard to both chambers of the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina People’s Assembly which functioned from the elections of November 26, 1953 to the elections of January 6, 1958, when it was dissolved. The elections for people’s representatives to the Republic Council and the Council of Producers of the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina People’s Assembly of the fourth convocation were held on March 23, 1958. A total of 126 representatives per 25,000 inhabitants and 91 representatives per 30,000 workers each were elected to the Republic Council and the Council of Producers, respectively.
The mandate of the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina People’s Assembly elected between March 23 and 27, 1958 was extended for one year, from April 10, 1962 to April, 10 1963, when it was dissolved. From December 1953 to June 1963, Đuro Pucar performed the duties of the President of the People’s Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
n April 1963, a new Federal Constitution was enacted and was followed by the Republic Constitutions. The Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was adopted on April 10, 1963, and was built upon with amendments in 1967, 1969 and 1972. According to the new Constitution, the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was renamed the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, marking the beginning of socialist democracy, in contrast to the previous people’s democracy. This Constitution of SFRY was named the “Charter of Self-Management,” as henceforth the self-management model would spread into all spheres of social life. The Constitution defined the following social-political units in the Republic: municipality, county and republic. The new Constitution established the town councils as self-management organs in towns with several municipalities. Local communities, being the self-management communities of citizens managed by a council elected at the voters’ meetings, were introduced as the basic territorial unit of the new political system. The county was the next social-political community and was specially defined by the new Constitution. The County Assembly comprised representatives who were elected at the municipal assemblies proportional to the number of their inhabitants.
There were considerable changes with regard to the composition of the Republic Assembly. The 1963 Constitution introduced the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina Assembly with five Chambers: the Republic Council as the council of delegates of citizens in the municipalities, the Economic Council, the Educational-Cultural Council, the Social-Healthcare Council and the Organizational-Political Council, a council of delegates from workers in the work communities. The Republic Council counted 120 representatives, while the other four counted 70 representatives each. Every citizen holding the right to vote could be elected to the Republic Council, and every worker or member of work organization management, including the senior officers with Trade Unions in certain economic areas, could be elected to the other councils. Under the Constitution, the Executive Council of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina Assembly was a political executive organ of the Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it comprised a President and two Vice-Presidents, while other members were elected by the Republic Council among the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina Assembly representatives. The Constitution regulated the Republic’s administration, municipal and district courts, the Supreme Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Constitutional Law was enacted for the purpose of practical implementation of the 1963 Constitution, which provided for the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina People’s Assembly to enact several election laws: the law for the election of the Republic’s representatives, the law on the election of county and municipal representatives, the law on the organization and functioning of the Executive Council, the law on election units for the election of Republic representatives, and other regulations. According to the new Constitution, on a twoyear basis, half of the members of every council of the Assembly, and half of the Republic representatives, were to be elected. Therefore, the next elections were held on April 4 and 8, 1965 and April 9 and 23, 1967. From 1963 to 1967, Rato Dugonjić was the President of the People’s Assembly and, after the 1967 elections, this duty was performed by Džemal Bijedić until 1971. The electoral system in Bosnia and Herzegovina also changed in accordance with the adopted amendments to the 1963 Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The amendments changed the structure of the Republic Assembly by renaming the Organizational Council to the Social-Political Council, and all members of every council were to be elected to a fouryear mandate, while no one could be elected a Republic representative for more than two mandates. The Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Bosnia and Herzegovina carried out and organized the overall political activities pertaining to the election of representatives.
In the sixties, legislative activity was intensive and included the Constitutional law on the abolition of counties on April 27, 1966, amendments to the Constitution from April 20, 1967 and February 6, 1969, which harmonized the Constitutional system with the amendments to the Constitution of SFRY. The Republic Constitution was further subjected to corrections by the enactment of 24 amendments to the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in compliance with the amendments to the 1971 Constitution of SFRY. Until February 15, 1972, activities regarding the adoption of the Constitutional amendments were carried out. Permanent amendments and supplements to the solutions of the Constitution could not create a democratic society because of the one-party system and the increasingly dominant role of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia. Frequent economic reforms which failed to bring their desired results and the idea of the liberalization of the society in the early seventies caused a deep political crisis in Yugoslav society.
In the process of seeking independence and competences for the Republic authorities relative to Federative ones, a new Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was adopted at the session of the all Assembly Councils on February 25, 1974. Under the conditions of socialist self-management, this Constitution had already been prepared by the amendments of 1967, 1969 and 1972. The biggest novelty of the 1974 Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was the introduction of collective presidential authority. Being a new institution in the social-political system at that time, the Presidency of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina functioned as a collective president of the Republic and comprised nine members.
Rato Dugonjić was elected first President of the Presidency of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the session of all Councils on April 29, 1974, the Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina appointed the members and the President of the Presidency, who reported to the parliamentary body. According to the new Constitution (the fourth after the liberation), the Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina consisted of three Councils: the Council of Associated Labour (160 delegates), the Social-Political Council (80) and the Council of Municipalities (80). The Assembly system was based on a delegate principle; that is, a decision was made to set up the delegate assemblies starting from the municipalities, through the city of Sarajevo to the Republic level. The municipal assembly comprised three councils: the Local Community Council, the Council of Associated Labor and the Social-Political Council. The City Assembly and the Republic Assembly had the same councils. It was only at the municipal level that the delegates were elected directly, while the City and Republic Assemblies were formed from elected candidates.
By the 1974 Constitution, the Muslims were also constitutionally recognized as an equal nationality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, although before this act, which entailed formal and constitutional recognition of their status, the political subjectivity and constituency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Muslims were respected in practice. After World War II, this issue was treated in different ways. After liberation, during the 1948 census, there was the possibility for Muslims to declare themselves Serbs, Croats, Albanians, among others, but the majority remained “undecided.” During the 1953 census, along with declaring themselves as Serbs or Croats they could also declare themselves as “Yugoslav-undecided,” while during the 1961 census the nationality-related markings also included a column “Muslim (ethnicity).” However, it was only in the 1971 census that Muslims were able to declare themselves as “Muslims in a national sense.” Since 1993 the name Bosniak for this nationality has been used. Over this important period, from 1971 to May 1974, Hamdija Pozderac was the President of the National Assembly and his mandate was renewed to last until April 1978. After him the President was Niko Mihaljević until 1981. The mandate of the President of the Assembly continued to be performed by Vaso Gačić until May 1983, by Ivica Blažević until April 1984, while from 1984 to April 1987 this duty was performed by Salko Oruč.
On July 12, 1976, amendments I-IV to the 1974 Constitution were adopted and introduced the concept of changeable delegates and intensified the participation of the Assemblies of Self-Management Communities and Self-Management Communities of Interest in the work of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina Assembly. As ways in which to respond to the problems in the Yugoslav society were sought, so the number of the amendments to the Constitution increased. On July 21, 1981, the Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted eight new amendments to the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The amendments were followed by a parallel process by which, under the Federative Constitution, the mandate in the representative organs was reduced to one year, and the mandate in the executive organs to two years without the possibility of re-election. The Assembly did not elect the President of the Presidency of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina; instead, the members of the Presidency elected him from among themselves. In March 1984, six new amendments were adopted to improve the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina through elaboration of the principles of associated labor, decision-making, and degree of responsibility, among others.
However, these amendments could not improve the one-party system, which attempted to survive by experimenting with self-management and associated labor, collective responsibility, etc. The second half of the eighties brought substantial changes to the democratic life of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The centers of political power at that time were within the League of Communists of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which also influenced the social-political organizations of that time, including the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Trade Union Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Union of the Socialist Youth of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which were democratized under public pressure. The Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was at the center of all the events and turmoil, where heated debates took place and answers to future state and social development issues were sought. Numerous strikes and the discontent of workers, citizens and students, the development of actual and forced scandals such as the “Agrokomerc” scandal (regarding the issuance of unsecured promissory notes to this company), the “Neum” scandal (the building of weekend-houses for high officials under privileged conditions) as well as others, deeply wrenched the society of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the party in power, leading to calls for more human and civil rights through new forms of democratic, representative authorities, including fundamental changes to the social system. It is also noteworthy that all of the foregoing took place during the parallel processes in the Republics of the former SFRY and the fall of the socialist regime in Eastern Europe. At that time, from April 1987 to January 1989, the President of the Assembly was Savo Čečur, followed by Zlatan Karavdić until December 1990.
Thirty-eight new amendments to the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which were issued on April 1, 1989, brought to an end the one-party system by introducing election lists, thus opening the doors to free elections and the overall democratization of the society.
The following year, in July 1990, 31 amendments to the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina comprehensively reformed the Constitution, which would considerably affect the events to come. They defined Bosnia and Herzegovina as a “democratic and sovereign state of equal citizens, the nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina – Muslims, Serbs, Croats and members of other nations and ethnic groups living in it.” It was established that the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina was integral and inseparable, and that “the borders of the Republic may only be changed in accordance with the will of the citizens of the entire Republic, previously expressed by referendum, if at least two thirds of the total number of voters vote in favor of it.” A significant change was contained in the amendment stating that “all forms of property are equal and enjoy protection,” and that “economic and other activities may be freely performed by all forms of property resources,” by which the earlier preferential treatment of the public economic system was abandoned. In contrast to the earlier unity of power, the principle of splitting the power between legislative, executive and judicial branches was introduced, so that the Executive Council was renamed the Government of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The adoption of the constitutional amendments and the enactment of the new election legislation enabled the first multiparty elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, during which the citizens could freely elect their representatives among several political parties and options. The decision at the time by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the constitutionality of the establishment of national political parties, which made room for the establishment of ethnicity-based political parties, was of enormous significance. It is also noteworthy that these constitutional changes resulted in a significant level of independence for Bosnia and Herzegovina and strengthened its statehood within the federative federal Yugoslavia.