The Royal Dictatorship in Jugoslavia

Courtesy Reuters

AT the end of the war the new states of Europe asked the world to hold back from giving too early judgment on their efforts to gather their scattered forces. "After ten years," they said, "it will be fair to judge us." They were inexperienced and optimistic. The personal, sectional and class rivalries and dissensions that persisted after our own Revolutionary War remind us that ten years is little in the life of a nation. The new states of Europe have accomplished much. But seeing how much has been done, and yet how much there still remains to do, we look back with wonder at the hopes of 1919. The ten years are up, however; so let us glance at the state of affairs in what at present is the most interesting of the Balkan countries.

The eleventh year of the Jugoslav union began dramatically. On the morning of the first Sunday in January 1929, King Alexander startled his country and gave the press of Europe an occasion for display headlines by issuing a proclamation dissolving Parliament and rescinding the Constitution. The same day he placed the government in the hands of a non-party cabinet, representing the different sections of the country and responsible directly to him and to him alone. As Premier -- as his personal representative, that is, to enforce his will -- he chose General Zhivkovitch, head of the Royal Guard since 1917, a man of energy and decision. The royal proclamation, addressed "To My Beloved People, to All the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes," was published in the Official Gazette the morning of Sunday, January 6, and was posted up at once in every village.

In his proclamation King Alexander resumed the method of direct address to his people which had marked his memorable pronouncement of January 6, 1919.[i] "The hour has come," he said, "when there must no longer be any intermediary between the People and the King." He went on to say that "Parliamentary institutions, which as a political instrument were a

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