Category Archives: Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Historic cases of semi-presidentialism – Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

I am not sure how this case missed my attention. However, I have ‘discovered’ another case of historic semi-presidentialism. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was semi-presidential from July 2000 until the dissolution of the state in 2003 and the creation of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.

Following the collapse of communist Yugoslavia, a new constitution was adopted in 1992. The text is available here. At that time, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was parliamentary. Arts. 103 and 104 make it clear that the PM and cabinet are collectively responsible to the legislature. However, Art. 97 indicates that the president is elected by the legislature.

In July 2000 the 1992 constitution was amended. (I have a copy of the text and can supply it, but the source is gated). There was a new Art. 97, allowing for the direct election of the president. Indeed, in September 2000 the first election was held, with Vojislav Koštunica beating Slobodan Milošević. There are details here as well as a more general article in Journal of Democracy , Volume 15, Number 4, October 2004.

In February 2003 the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was dissolved and the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro was created. The constitution is available here. This constitution is parliamentary. Art. 21 states that the president is elected by the legislature.

To bring the story up to date, when Montenegro voted for independence in 2006 the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro was dissolved. The 2007 Montenegrin constitution and the 2006 Serbian constitutions are both semi-presidential. Therefore, the dissolution of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro led to the creation of two new semi-presidential countries.

To complete the story, from 1992-2006 both Montenegro and Serbia were Republics within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia/State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. Both had their own constitutions and both were semi-presidential. The constitutions are available here and here. So, even though at the national level Yugoslavia was semi-presidential only from 2000-2003, at the sub-national level both Montenegro and Serbia were semi-presidential prior to statehood in 2006.