Programski dokumenti hrvatskih političkih stranaka i skupina 1842 - 1914

TitleProgramski dokumenti hrvatskih političkih stranaka i skupina 1842 - 1914
Publication TypePublication review
AuthorsDjuraskovic, Stevo
Author(s) of reviewed materialCipek, Tihomir(ed.), and Stjepan(ed.) Matković

Title translated:
The Program Documents of the Croatian Political Parties and Groups 1842-1914

PublisherZagreb: Disput
ISSNISBN 953-6770-93-8
Review year


Full Text

A basic deficiency in Croatian historiography has been the lack of synthetic studies on the history of Croatian political parties. This situation has substantially improved through the appearance of the book Programski dokumenti hrvatskih političkih stranaka i skupina 1842.-1914. As its editors, Tihomir Cipek, Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb, and Stjepan Matković, Croatian Historical Institute in Zagreb, stressed, this book was conceived as a contribution to the scientific treatment of the political memory of CroatiaThus it contains more than 150 excerpts from political parties’ programs, manifestoes and party leaders parliamentary speeches, in the spatial sense covering programs from present-day Croatian territory and from neighboring countries with a significant Croatian minority population (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vojvodina, Austria), but also political organizations of Croats from North and South America, as well as programs of the national minorities’ parties in Croatia, especially Serbs and Italians. Subsequently, each excerpt is contextualized by a brief introductory annotation describing the background of its launching.

The book features two long introductory articles written by the editors that deal with various segments of the Croatian party scene and the Croatian political system in the late 19th and the first half of 20th century. Cipek frames the development of the Croatian political parties within the partly feudal Habsburg Monarchy, which suppressed the political development of the parties through paralyzing national emancipations, especially those of the Slavic nations living in the Monarchy. Thus, the main point of the parties’ political agenda till 1914 was the struggle for the solution of the ‘national question’ of the Croatian lands belonging to Hungary (Croatia- Slavonia) and Austria (Dalmatia). Subsequently, as Matković stressed in his introductory article, the project of Croatian political emancipation assumed three different forms, namely in alliance with Hungary, through the unity of south Slavs, and the establishment of independent Croatia. Although the modern liberal-democratic concept of the Croatian state was developed (at least to an extent) under each of these three notions, the party leaders were still quietly anchored in the concept of the feudal legal ‘Croatian state right,’ which remained the only guarantee of the country’s political autonomy in the semi-feudal political regime of the Monarchy. This guarantee became especially important when in the year after the Austro- Hungarian Ausgleich, 1868 Croatia was forced to accept the Croat- Hungarian Settlement, significantly restricting its autonomy.

The book is divided into five chronologically organized thematic units. The first two cover the emergence and consolidation of the modern political parties on the eve of the 1848 revolution and in the era of Austro-Hungarian reconstitution in the 1860s post-absolutistic rule. The third, fourth and fifth one presents various stages of the parties’ ideological development during theAusgleich era. In addition to indexes of names and concepts, the authors offer the original text of the Croat- Hungarian Settlement from 1868, and a brief chronology of political events in the era under examination.

Ideologically, the first two units express the programmatic emphasis on the establishment of the political place of the Croatian nation within the framework of Hungary, contested between the pro-Yugoslav Ilirski pokret (Illyrian Movement) and its ancestors Narodna Stranka (People´s Party), the pro-Hungarian Mađaroni (Magyarons) party, and the pro-Croatian independenceStranka Prava (Party of (State) right). The third and the fourth units, that cover the four last decades of the 19th century, give insights into the parties’ struggle for the modification of the Croat-Hungarian Settlement as well as the reconstitution of the Croatian party scene, a development of the 1890s partly due to the politically charged Croatian- Serb dispute about the validity of notion of a ‘Croatian political nation.’ Subsequently, the Croatian political identity in Dalmatia and Istria becomes contested by the strong pro-Italianism of the local urban populations. Finally, the last, fifth unit depicts the modernization of the political scene at the turn of the century, which resulted in the emergence of new parties (the Christian-social, social democratic and agrarian ones), as well as the general broadening of parties’ programs, now featuring long lists of civic, social and economic rights. At this time, the first radical Croat and radical Yugoslav political groups emerge too, almost simultaneously with the first parties of the Germans and the Jews in Croatia, and the first Croatian parties in Bosnia, Vojvodina, Austria and North and South America.

Although the ideological genesis of parties might be more intelligible through their separate treatment, the chronological organization of the programs allows readers a better insight into the respective political contexts, as well as into relations between parties, thereby also making ideological cleavages clearer. This impression is additionally strengthened by the choice of the materials from numerous sources and their featuring in balanced quantity, what is most important in the case of Mađaroni, Serb political parties and Stranka Prava with programs that reveal how different they actually were from what is their standard representation in both Croatian and Serbian historiography. Although both Mađaroni and Serb parties have frequently been interpreted in large parts of Croatian historiography narrowly and as ‘Anti-Croat’, their programs show much more nuanced attitudes towards the notions of Croatian nation and Croatian political emancipation. The case of Stranka Prava is similar. Although it is depicted in Serbian historiography as an extreme nationalist, anti- Serb party, what it to an extent no doubt was, the party’s programs also show them as sharing some of the most advanced contemporary liberal-democratic values in Croatia. The only serious problem related to these aforementioned programs, as well as to all other ones in this book is that they are published in the original language of their writing, rather different from today’s standard Croatian.

To conclude, the book gives remarkable insights into the genesis of Croatian political parties by the abundance of the material presented and the choice of the programs, especially in relation to contested notions such as Croatian national identity, but also indicating broader, Monarchy-wide political influences on the Croatian party system. Moreover, this book is particularly important since it gives detailed insights into Serbian and Mađaroni political programs, thus calling for further research on these topics that have hitherto been quite ignored or interpreted in the exclusivist manner typical of the mainstream of both Croatian and Serbian historiography. Lastly, this book also continues the tradition started by Cipek with his previous workHrestomatija liberalnih ideja u Hrvatskoj [Chrestomathy of Liberal Thoughts in Croatia], published by the same publisher, which gave profound insights into the history of Croatian liberal thought, hitherto insufficiently studied by historians. Thus the book can be strongly recommended to anyone interested in nuanced insights into South Slav political history, and it can also be used as a source of primary materials by any researcher interested in the topic, especially helpful for the ones living abroad.