Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Socijalistička Republika Bosna i Hercegovina
Социјалистичка Република Босна и Херцеговина
Constituent republic of Yugoslavia

Flag Coat of arms
Location of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Yugoslavia.
Capital Sarajevo
Government Socialist republic
  19451946 (first) Vojislav Kecmanović
  19901992 (last) Alija Izetbegović
Prime Minister
  19451948 (first) Rodoljub Čolaković
  19901992 (last) Jure Pelivan
Legislature National Assembly
Historical era Cold War
  ZAVNOBiH 25 November 1943
  Creation of Herzeg-Bosnia 18 November 1991
  Creation of Republika Srpska 9 January 1992
  Independence referendum 1 March 1992
  Outbreak of Bosnian War 5 April 1992
  Independence 6 April 1992
  1991 51,129 km2 (19,741 sq mi)
  1991 4,377,053 
Density 85.6 /km2  (221.7 /sq mi)
Today part of  Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Serbo-Croatian: Socijalistička Republika Bosna i Hercegovina (SR BiH) / Социјалистичка Pепублика Босна и Херцеговина (СP БиХ)) was one of the six constituent federal units forming the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It was a predecessor of the modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina state, and existed between 1945 to 1992, included in Yugoslavia as a condominium and subsequently given the status of a Socialist Republic, however under strict terms of hegemonist consociationalism called "ethnic key" (Bosnian: nacionalni ključ) where balance in the political representation of ethnic groups (Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks) was enforced. The capital city was Sarajevo, which remained the capital following independence. The Socialist Republic was dissolved in 1990 when it abandoned its communist institutions and adopted free market ones, as the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina which declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1992. The Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina was up to 20 December 1990 in the hands of the League of Communists of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The borders of SR Bosnia and Herzegovina were almost identical to the ones Bosnia had during the period of Austro-Hungarian rule that lasted until 1918. That year Bosnia became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and during that period the territory was divided among banovinas. When SR Bosnia and Herzegovina was formed, it included what were the territories of most of Vrbas Banovina, the western part of Drina Banovina, the northwestern part of Zeta Banovina, and the eastern parts of Banovina of Croatia.


During a meeting of the State Anti-fascist Council for the National Liberation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ZAVNOBiH) in Mrkonjić Grad on 25 November 1943. In April 1945 its name was formalized as the Federal State of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a constituent unit of the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia. With DF Yugoslavia changing its name to the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia on 29 November 1945 as well as the promulgation of the 1946 Yugoslav Constitution two months later in January, its constituent units also changed their respective names. FS Bosnia and Herzegovina thus became known as the People's Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This constitutional system lasted until the 1963 Yugoslav Constitution. On 7 April 1963, Yugoslavia was reconstituted as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and PR Bosnia and Herzegovina changed its name to the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

After independence on 1 March 1992, the country was renamed to the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Following the Dayton Agreement that was in force, it became simply a federated state known as Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1997.


Because of its central geographic position within the Yugoslavian federation, post-war Bosnia was strategically selected as a base for the development of the military defense industry.[1] This contributed to a large concentration of arms and military personnel in Bosnia; a significant factor in the war that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. However, Bosnia's existence within Yugoslavia, for the large part, was peaceful and prosperous. Being one of the poorer republics in the early 1950s it quickly recovered economically, taking advantage of its extensive natural resources to stimulate industrial development. The Yugoslavian communist doctrine of "brotherhood and unity" particularly suited Bosnia's diverse and multi-ethnic society that, because of such an imposed system of tolerance, thrived culturally and socially. Cultural ascendance of Bosnia and Herzegovina culminated with the selection of Sarajevo to host 1984 Winter Olympics.


Though considered a political backwater of the federation for much of the 50s and 60s, the 70s saw the ascension of a strong Bosnian political elite. While working within the communist system, politicians such as Džemal Bijedić, Branko Mikulić and Hamdija Pozderac reinforced and protected the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Their efforts proved key during the turbulent period following Tito's death in 1980, and are today considered some of the early steps towards Bosnian independence. However, the republic hardly escaped the increasingly nationalistic climate of the time unscathed.[2]

Following the death of Tito in 1980, rising nationalist ideas primarily noted in Serbian academia, pressured Bosnia to deal with allegations of rising nationalism in their own society. One of the most controversial events that were taken by a Bosnian political leadership was a so-called Sarajevo process in 1983 where, under significant pressure from Serbia's political leadership, Bosnian political elite used their influence to secure convictions for several Muslim nationalists as a type of a political sacrifice to gain political points in the fight against Serbian nationalists.

The Sarajevo process centered on convicting Alija Izetbegović for writing "The Islamic Declaration", a literary work which was in the Yugoslav communist regime considered a radical approach towards socialist ideals of former Yugoslavia that were based on suppression of nationalism and any violation of that doctrine was punishable by law. Such trials in the communist regime were quite common and a typical practice of suppressing the right to free speech. Bosnian politicians used this practice to reaffirm their political opposition to Serbian nationalist tendencies and in particular opposition to the politics of Slobodan Milošević who was trying to revert the constitutional amendments of the 1970s that awarded the Bosniaks the status of a constituent ethnicity.[3]

The process also backfired as the Serbian lobby insisted that Bosnia was a "dark nation" where all those who oppose the government will be prosecuted, where Bosnian Muslim communists were prosecuting Muslim believers. That kind of propaganda attracted many Bosnian Muslims to their way of thinking. Others were interpreting the Sarajevo process as a way of removing the political amateurs who could end up disrupting the process of Bosnian independence.

The pre-war situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

With the fall of communism and the start of the break-up of Yugoslavia, the old communist doctrine of tolerance began to lose its potency, creating an opportunity for nationalist elements in the society to spread their influence.

On the first multi-party elections that took place in November 1990 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the three largest ethnic parties in the country won: the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action, the Serbian Democratic Party and the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina. After the elections, they formed a coalition government. The primary motivation behind this union was to maintain an atmosphere of harmony and tolerance and further their common goal to rule as a democratic alternative to the Socialist government that preceded them.

Parties divided the power along the ethnic lines so that the President of the Presidency of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was a Bosniak, president of the Parliament was a Bosnian Serb and the prime minister a Bosnian Croat.

Towards separation

After Slovenia and Croatia declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its sovereignty in October 1991 and organized a referendum on independence in March 1992. The decision of the Parliament of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina on holding the referendum was taken after the majority of Bosnian Serb members had left the assembly in protest.

These Bosnian Serb assembly members invited the Bosnian Serb population to boycott the referendum held on February 29 and March 1, 1992. The turnout in the referendum was 64-67% and the vote was 98% in favor of independence. Independence was declared on March 5, 1992 by the parliament. The referendum and the murder of two Bosnian Serb members of a wedding procession in Sarajevo the day prior to the referendum was utilized by the Bosnian Serb political leadership as a reason to start road blockades in protest.[4] Further political and social deterioration, leading to the Bosnian War followed.

The Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was renamed the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina on April 8, 1992,[5] losing the adjective "Socialist".[5] It established a multi-party system and began moving toward a fully capitalist economic system. The republic retained socialist realist symbols pending the end of the Yugoslav Wars. The republic was led by Alija Izetbegović in a fractious political environment. In 1992, the Republic declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Heads of Institutions


Prime Ministers

See also

Part of a series on the
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Bosnia and Herzegovina
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  1. Sancaktar, Caner (Spring 2012). "Historical Construction And Development Of Bosniak Nation". Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations.
  2. Armakolas, Loannis (March 2011). "The 'Paradox' of Tuzla City: Explaining Non-nationalist Local Politics during the Bosnian War". Europe-Asia Studies.
  3. Bergholz, Max (June 2013). "Sudden Nationhood: The Microdynamics Of Intercommunal Relations In Bosnia-Herzegovina After World War II". American Historical Review.
  4. Blitz, Brad (2015-10-26). "Bosnia Revisited: A Retrospective On The Legacy Of The Conflict.". Forced Migration Review.
  5. 1 2 Uredba o izmjeni naziva Socijalističke Republike Bosne i Hercegovine. in: "Službeni list Republike Bosne i Hercegovine". I., br. 1, 9. aprila 1992., str. 1.


Coordinates: 43°52′N 18°25′E / 43.867°N 18.417°E / 43.867; 18.417

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