Now as everybody’s attention is on the newest Constitution of Serbia, the first of independent Serbia since 1918, it would be nice to take a look on the constitutional history of modern Serbia:
1835 – The Sretenje Constitution: As Serbia’s high autonomy was established already, the assembly gathered in Kragujevac and adopted the “Sretenje” Constitution. It was characterized at that period to be the “most liberal” constitution in Europe, even being more advanced than its role model, the French Constitution. It limited to a high degree the powers of the monarch, giving high authorities to the Assembly. Due to its liberalism, the Great powers, namely, Austria, Russia and the Ottoman Empire protested and as such, the Sretenje Constitution lasted only two weeks and it was suspended by Prince Milos.
1838 – The Turkish Constitution: This constitution was issued by an official decree of the Ottoman Sultan, the “hatisherif”, which replaced the Sretenje Constitution. In ts contents, the Turkish Constitution was the direct opposit of the Sretenje Constitution and as such, due to the international status of Serbia, it was the longest Constitution of Serbia, lasting 31 years.
1869 – The New Constitution: As times were changing, the assasination of prince (Knez) Mihajlo brought to the Serbian throne young Milan, who was however represented by a regency. The regents desired to put an end to the process of bringing a new constitution, a process that lasted during the rule of Prince Mihajlo. The declared the Constitution of 1869 was more progressive than the Turkish Constitution, the Assembly was reestablished bu the monarch still had a broad range of powers.
1888 – The Liberal Constitution: The public opinion after the two Serbo-Turkish Wars and the declaration of the Kingdom, requested for the liberalization of the society and limitations to the powers of the King. King Milan, unable to resist further the public pressure introduced a new Constitution, modeled on the Sretenje Constitution, and abdicated for the sake of his son Aleksandar.
1901 – The Implemented Constitution: The rule of King Aleksandar (1889-1903) was characterized by constant political crises and scandals. The 1888 Constitution was suspended in 1894 and the one of 1869 was brought back. In 1901, against the law, he implemented the 1901 Constitution, which was modeled on the 1869 Constitution, but additionally, he received even broader powers. The 1901 Constitution was suspended once in May 1903 for 45 minutes, record when it comes coups d’ etats. After the assasination of King Aleksandar, the new King, Petar I Karadjordjevic and the assembly reinstalled the 1888 Constitution.
To be continued…