Stjepan Radić (11 June 1871 – 8 August 1928) was a Yugoslav
politician and the founder of the Croatian People's Peasant Party
(HPSS). Radić is credited with galvanizing Croatian peasantry into a
viable political force. Throughout his entire career, he was opposed
to the union and, later,
Serb hegemony in Yugoslavia and became an
important political figure in that country. He was shot in parliament
by the Serbian radical politician Puniša Račić. Radić died several
weeks later from a serious stomach wound at the age of 57. This
assassination further alienated the
Croats and the Serbs.
1.1 Early life
1.2 Lead up to the first Yugoslavia
1.4 The new Constitution
1.5 Again imprisoned
1.6 Return to Parliament
1.7 Assassination in Parliament
5 External links
Stjepan Radić was born in Desno Trebarjevo, Martinska Ves near Sisak
Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia
Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia within
Austria-Hungary as the ninth
of eleven children. After being expelled from his gymnasium in
Zagreb, he finished at the Higher Real Gymnasium in Karlovac. In 1888
Radić travelled to Đakovo where he met with bishop Josip Juraj
Strossmayer to request help for a trip to the Russian Empire.
Strossmayer recommended Radić to Metropolitan Mihailo of
referred him to a Russian teacher in Kiev. Radić travelled to Kiev
and was allowed to stay at the city's Monastery of the Caves where he
remained for six weeks before returning to Croatia.
In September 1891 he enrolled in law at the University of Zagreb.
He was selected as a representative of the student body at the
celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Battle of
Sisak in 1893.
After criticizing the ban of
Károly Khuen-Héderváry during
the ceremony and referring to him as a "Magyar hussar", Radić was
sentenced to four months in prison which he served in Petrinja. He
was among a group of students who set fire to the Hungarian tricolour
on 16 October 1895 during the visit of Emperor Franz Joseph to Zagreb.
For this, Radić received a prison sentence and was expelled from the
University of Zagreb, as well as barred from all universities in the
Monarchy. After spending some time in Russia and, later, Prague,
Radić continued his studies at the École libre des sciences
politiques in Paris, where he graduated in 1899.
Lead up to the first Yugoslavia
After World War I he had opposed merging
Croatia with the Kingdom of
Serbia without guarantees for Croatian autonomy. Radić was selected
as a member of the National Council of Slovenes,
Croats and Serbs. On
24 November 1918 he famously urged delegates attending a session that
would decide the country's political future not to "rush like drunken
geese into fog". He was the lone member of the
National Council's central committee to vote against sending a
Belgrade to negotiate with the Kingdom of Serbia. On
26 November, he was removed from the central committee.
Under pressure from the
Great powers (British Empire, France, United
States), as well as honouring the secret deals that were struck
between the Entente and the Kingdom of Serbia, the Kingdom of Serbs,
Croats and Slovenes was established and two representatives of
Radić's party (by then named the Croatian Common-people Peasant
Party) were appointed to the
Provisional Representation which served
as a parliament until elections for the Constituent could be held. The
party's representatives, however, decided not to take their seats.
On 8 March 1919 the central committee passed a resolution penned by
Radić that declared "Croatian citizens do not recognize the so called
Kingdom of Serbs,
Croats and Slovenes under the Karađorđević
dynasty because this kingdom was proclaimed other than by the Croatian
Sabor and without any mandate of the Croatian People." The full
statement was included in a Memorandum which was translated into
French and sent abroad to be addressed to the Paris Peace
Conference. This act provoked a decision by the government to
arrest Radić along with several other party members.
He was to be held some 11 months until February 1920, just before the
first parliamentary elections of the Kingdom of SHS to a
Constitutional Assembly which were held on 28 November. The result of
the November election was 230,590 votes, which equaled to 50 seats in
the parliament out of 419. On 8 December, before the first sitting of
parliament, Radić held a massive rally in front of 100,000 people in
Stjepan Radić and the CCPP held an extraordinary meeting, in
which a motion was put forward and voted on that the party will not be
part of parliamentary discussions before matters are first resolved
Serbia on the matters of governance, the most sticking issues
being the minorisation of the Croatian people and the overt powers of
the King with the central government in Belgrade. The party was
subsequently renamed to the Croatian Republican Peasant Party,
highlighting the party's official stance. In December, ban of Croatia
Matko Laginja was dismissed by the cabinet of Milenko Radomar Vesnić
for allowing the rally to take place.
The new Constitution
On 12 December 1920, the Parliament of SHS had their first sitting,
without the representatives of CPP (50 representatives) and the
Croatian Party of Rights (2 representatives). A total of 342
representatives presented their credentials out of a total of 419.
On 28 June 1921, the Constitution of the Kingdom of Serbs,
Slovenes was made law after a vote of 223 representatives out of the
present 285, the total number representatives in the parliament being
419. The representatives turnout and subsequent vote is quite poor
considering that it was a constitutive parliament, which was supposed
to have created the new constitution. The constitution was commonly
known as the Vidovdan (St. Vitus Day) Constitution after the
anniversary of the Serbian Battle of Kosovo, also the anniversary of
the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914.
In the next parliamentary elections, which were held in March 1923,
the stance of
Stjepan Radić and the CPP against the central
government managed to turn into extra votes. The results of the
election were, 70 seats or 473.733 votes, which represented the
majority of the Croatian vote in Northern and Southern parts of
Croatia, as well as the Croatian votes in Bosnia, as well as
Radić still held on to the idea of an independent Croatia, and kept
the party out of parliament in protest. This in effect afforded
Serbian prime minister
Nikola Pašić the opportunity to consolidate
power and strengthen his Serb-dominated government. Returning from an
unsanctioned overseas trip in 1923 in which
Stjepan Radić visited
England (for 5 months),
Austria (5 months) and the
Soviet Union (2
months). upon his return in 1924, Radić was arrested in
sentenced for associating with Soviet Communists and imprisoned. The
trip was used for the purpose of internationalising the plight of
Croatians in the Kingdom of SHS.
After his release,
Stjepan Radić soon reentered politics, but this
was not without problems. On 23 December, the
Serb dominated central
government declared that the political party CRPP was in contravention
of the Internal security law of 1921 in the infamous Obznana
declaration, and this was confirmed by King Alexander on 1 January
1924, thus arresting the CRPP executive on 2 January 1925, and finally
Stjepan Radić on 5 January.
After the parliamentary elections in February 1925, the CRPP even with
its whole executive team behind bars, and with only
Stjepan Radić at
its helm, CRPP managed to win 67 parliamentary seats with a total of
532,872 votes. Even though the vote count was higher than at the
previous election, the gerrymandering by the central government
ensured that CRPP received fewer parliamentary seats. In order to
increase his negotiating power the CRPP entered into a coalition with
the Independent Democratic party (Samostalna demokratska stranka),
Slovenian People's Party
Slovenian People's Party (Slovenska ljudska stranka) and the Yugoslav
Muslim Organization (Jugoslavenska muslimanska organizacija).
Return to Parliament
Immediately after the parliamentary elections in March 1925, the CRPP
changed the party name to
Croatian Peasant Party
Croatian Peasant Party (Hrvatska seljačka
stranka). With the backing of the coalition partners, the CPP made an
agreement with the major conservative Serbian party - the People's
Radical Party (Narodna radikalna stranka), in which a power-sharing
arrangement was struck, as well as a deal to release the CPP executive
from jail. The CPP had to make certain concessions like recognising
the central government and the rule of the monarch, as well as the
Vidovdan constitution in front of the full parliament on 27 March
Stjepan Radić was made the Minister for Education, whereas
other CPP party members obtained ministerial posts: Pavle Radić, dr.
Nikola Nikić, dr. Benjamin Šuperina and dr. Ivan Krajač. This
powersharing arrangement was cut short after the passing away of the
president of the Peoples Radical Party, Nikola Pašić, on 10 December
Radić soon resigned his ministerial post in 1926 and returned to the
opposition, and in 1927 entered into a coalition with Svetozar
Pribićević, president of the Independent Democratic Party, a leading
party of the Serbs in Croatia. The Peasant-Democrat coalition had a
real chance to end the Radicals' long-time stranglehold control of the
Parliament. Previously they had long been opponents, but the Democrats
became disillusioned with the
Belgrade bureaucracy and restored good
relations with the Peasant Party with which they were allies in the
time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. With this arrangement, Stjepan
Radić managed to obtain a parliamentary majority in 1928. However, he
was not able to form a government. The Peasant-Democrat coalition was
opposed by some of the Croatian elite, like Ivo Andrić, who even
regarded the followers of the CPP as "...fools following a blind
dog..." (the blind dog being Stjepan Radić).
In his elder days, Radić was nearly blind.
Assassination in Parliament
Assassination in Belgrade
Stjepan Radić's grave on
Death threats and threats of violent beatings were made against
Stjepan Radić in parliament, without any intervention by the
president of the Assembly (Parliamentary speaker). On the morning of
20 June 1928, Radić was warned of the danger of an assassination
attempt against him and was begged to stay away from the Assembly for
that day. He replied that he was like a soldier in war, in the
trenches and as such it was his duty to go but he nevertheless
promised not to utter a single word.
In the Assembly, Puniša Račić, a member of People's Radical Party
from Montenegro, got up and made a provocative speech which produced a
stormy reaction from the opposition but Radić himself stayed
completely silent. Finally,
Ivan Pernar shouted in response, "thou
plundered beys" (referring to accusations of corruption related to
Puniša Račić made his way to the speaker podium facing the
Croats. He put his hand in his pocket, where he held the revolver, and
faced the president Ninko Perić and told him: "I ask of you, Mr.
president, to sanction Pernar. If you fail to stop me, I shall punish
him myself!" After that threat shouting started in the room. But
Račić continued his threats: "Whoever tries to stand between me and
Pernar will be killed!" At that moment
Puniša Račić took out his
parabellum. Minister Vujičić, sitting at the bench behind Račić,
grabbed his hand in order to stop him. At the same time, minister
Kujundžić came to his aid, but Račić, however, being very strong,
broke himself free. At exactly 11:25 AM shots were fired - Pernar was
hit 1 cm above the heart. When he collapsed, Račić took aim at
Stjepan Radić. Dr.
Đuro Basariček noticed this and leaped to help
him. Račić, however, turned his way and shot him, bullet entering
his loins and exiting around his scapula. Basariček fainted
immediately. Ivan Granđa ran in front of
Stjepan Radić and Račić
shot him in the arm. As soon as he was down, Račić aimed,
peacefully, at Stjepan Radić, and shot him in the chest. At that
point Pavle Radić jumped towards Račić, who didn't get confused,
but remarked: "Ha! I've been looking for you!" and shot him 1 cm
below the heart. It was believed Račić would shoot Svetozar
Pribičević, sitting next to Stjepan Radić, next, but Račić
instead peacefully left the room through the ministers' chambers. The
whole assassination was over in less than a minute. It was one of the
first assassinations in a government building in history. Radić
was left for dead and indeed had such a serious stomach wound (he was
also a diabetic) that he died several weeks later at the age of 57.
His funeral was officiated by archbishop Antun Bauer of Zagreb. His
burial was massively attended and his death was seen as causing a
permanent rift in Croat-
Serb relations in the old Yugoslavia.[citation
What exactly happened to
Puniša Račić is still contested. One
version (conservative) states that he was sentenced to 20 years of
house arrest and later pardoned by the
Serb authorities while another
(communist) contends that he was sentenced to 20 years of hard labour
and freed by the invading Nazis in WWII. He led a normal life during
the Nazi occupation of
Serbia and was captured and killed by Communist
partisans in 1945 or 1946.
Following the political crisis triggered by the shooting, in January
1929, King Aleksandar
Karađorđević abolished the constitution,
dissolved parliament, and declared a royal dictatorship, changing the
country into the first Yugoslavia and oppressing national
Radić is buried in the
Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb.
Radić's violent death turned him into a martyr and he was turned into
an icon of political struggle for the peasantry and the working class,
as well as an icon of Croatian patriots. The iconography of Stjepan
Radić was later used not only by his successor Vladko Maček, but
also by other political options in Croatia: right wing or left wing.
Ustaše used the death of
Stjepan Radić as proof of Serbian
hegemony, and as an excuse for their treatment of Serbs. However,
a number of leading CPP figures who became political opponents of the
Ustashe were imprisoned or killed by the regime. The Partisans on the
other hand used this as a recruiting point with CPP members who were
disillusioned with the Independent State of Croatia, and latter had
one brigade named after Antun and
Stjepan Radić in 1943.
The image of
Stjepan Radić was used extensively during the Croatian
Spring movement in the early 1970s. There are many folk groups, clubs,
primary and secondary schools which bear the name of Stjepan Radić.
Many Croatian cities have streets and squares in his name. In 2008, a
total of 265 streets in
Croatia were named after him, making Radić
the third most common person eponym of streets in the country.
Stjepan Radić are also common. His portrait is depicted on
the obverse of the Croatian 200 kuna banknote, issued in 1993 and
2002. Since 1995 the Republic of
Croatia has awarded the Order of
Stjepan Radić. In 2015 the
Croatian Parliament declared 20 June to be
the Memorial Day for
Stjepan Radić and the June Victims.
In 1997, a poll in Croatian weekly Nacional named
Stjepan Radić as
the most admired Croatian historic personality.
Stjepan Radić was a Roman Catholic, but in the same time extremely
anti-clerical. In a 1924 rally in Krašić, birthplace of the late
Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, he stated: "Priests or bishops are
teachers of the faith and as such we are listening to them in church,
and even outside the church. But when they mistake religion with
politics, with such gentile politics of revenge, blood, arrogance and
gluttony, they are not teachers, but destroyers of faith and church.
(...) When our bishops write a political letter, and when they want to
be political leaders to the Croatian people, then it is my and our
duty to decipher it and if necessary, condemn it." In an interview for
Nova revija in 1926 he stated that "clericalism means abuse of the
most sacred feelings of religion in order to destroy the family, to
demolish people in order to gain political power." He would often
repeat the slogan: Believe in God, but not in the priest. He supported
the establishment of the Indigenous Croatian Catholic Church, and its
separation from the Vatican. The secularist association "Voice of
Reason - The Movement for a Secular Croatia" uses his portrait as its
This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help
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(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
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^ Rychlik 2015, p. 92.
^ a b Ivo Očak,
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Vol 25, Zagreb, 1992.
^ a b Branka Boban, Mladi
Stjepan Radić o Srbima u Hrvatskoj i
odnosima Hrvata i Srba, Radovi Zavod za hrvatsku povijest, Vol 28,
^ Racko 1990, p. 244
^ "Radić, Stjepan".
Croatian Encyclopedia (in Croatian). Miroslav
Krleža Institute of Lexicography. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
^ a b Zlatko Matijević, Narodno vijeće Slovenaca, Hrvata i Srba u
Zagrebu, Hrvatski institut za povijest.
^ Zlatko Matijević, Prilozi za političku biografiju dr. Ljudevita
Kežmana: od “Memoranduma” za Mirovnu konferenciju u Parizu do
odlaska u Sjedinjene Američke Države (1919.-1922.), Časopis za
suvremenu povijest, God. 38., br. 3., 757.-778. (2006)
^ Dragnich 1983, p. 18.
^ Dragnich 1983, p. 21.
^ CROATIA AND THE CROATIANS – Retrieved on 13 January 2011.
^ Zvonimir Kulundžić: Atentat na Stjepana Radića (The assassination
of Stjepan Radić)
^ Croatia. Bradt Travel Guides. 2016. p. 131.
ISBN 9781784770082. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
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^ Letica, Slaven (29 November 2008). Bach, Nenad, ed. "If Streets
Could Talk. Kad bi ulice imale dar govora". Croatian World Network.
ISSN 1847-3911. Retrieved 2014-12-31.
^ Croatian National Bank Archived 6 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine..
Features of Kuna Banknotes Archived 6 May 2009 at the Wayback
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Dragnich, Alex N. (1983). The First Yugoslavia: Search for a Viable
Political System. Hoover Press. ISBN 978-0-8179-7843-3.
Rychlik, Jan (2015). "Braća Radić i Hrvatska seljačka stranka" [The
Radić Brothers and the Croatian Peasant Party]. Almanac Jankovic.
Matica Hrvatska Daruvar. 1: 91–99.
Petrić, Hrvoje (2015). "O braći Radić i počecima Hrvatske pučke
seljačke stranke/About Radić brothers and the beginnings of the
Croatian People's Peasant Party". Matica hrvatska.
Racko, Ljerka (October 1990). "Spaljivanje mađarske zastave 1895.
godine u Zagrebu" (PDF). Radovi Zavoda za hrvatsku povijest (in
Croatian). 23 (1): 233–246. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Stjepan Radić.
Works by or about
Stjepan Radić at Internet Archive
(in Croatian) The history of the Croatian Peasant Party
Picture of Radić
The Croatian 200 kn bill with Stjepan Radić
Presidents of the Croatian Peasant Party
Stjepan Radić (1904–1928)
Vladko Maček (1928–1964)
Juraj Krnjević (1964–1988)
Drago Stipac (1991–1994)
Zlatko Tomčić (1994–2005)
Josip Friščić (2005–2012)
Branko Hrg (2012–2016)
Krešo Beljak (2016–)
ISNI: 0000 0001 2117 9394
BNF: cb121581523 (data)
Croatian Parliament for Ludbreg
1908 – 1918
Party political offices
President of the Croatian People's Peasant Party
1904 - 1928