Constitution of the Neutral Peasant Republic of Croatia

as discussed by the 4th sitting of the republican majority of Croatia under the rule of the Ban (head of the government) on the 5th and 6th day of March, 1921, accepted by the 5th sitting of the said republican majority of representatives on the 9th day of April 1921, and promulgated in the sitting of the 26th day of June 1921, in the capital city of Zagreb.
Published by L. Kezman, LL. D., Croatian deputy, Secretary General of the Croatian Republican Peasant Party.
Pittsburgh, Pa., 1923.
The present edition of the Constitution of the Neutral Peasant Republic of Croatia has, in the first place, been intended for the members of the Croatian Republican Peasant Organizations in America.
From this edition of the Constitution have been omitted the territorial provisions of Section A, number 2 of its original text, which omission is due to the actual changes effected by the popular vote cast at general elections of March 18, 1923. Pending constitutional amendment by the Assembly, the declaration, contained in the resolutions, passed by the Croatian Representative Assembly on March 25, 1923, stating that Croatia-Slavonia-Dalmatia shall be regarded as indisputable and incontestable territory of the Croatian Nation, may provisionally serve as a formal regulation of the point in question. (See appendix).
It may be taken for granted that amendments relative to territory will abide by the universally acknowledged right of national self-determination as the principle, and the plebiscite to be held within certain bordering areas as the method, by application of which the state territory may be extended or reduced.
Besides territorial regulations there has been omitted from this edition also the political preamble from Section B, number I, entitled “World and home factors which have been at work in making small nations subject of international law.”
Both passages, territorial and introductory, have also been barred from the recent edition of this Constitution published at Zagreb, which fact will remove from my proceeding any possible censure of arbitrariness.
These and such other amendments to this Constitution as may deem necessary to the Nation will be made the subject of deliberations by the respective Assembly, if not earlier, then when the times comes for the Constitution of Croatia to take effect.
That this time is no longer far distance, such is the unanimous conviction of the Croatian people.
Pittsburgh, Penna., August 1st, 1923. Dr. L. K.
The State shall bear the name: The Neutral Peasant Republic of Croatia.
(See note on page 1st and appendix).
The citizenship shall be Croatian.
The manner of acquiring the right of a citizen and all other particulars shall be enacted by a special Citizenship Act.
The State and National Heraldic Bearings shall consist of a checky shield emblazoned with 12 argent (white) and 13 gules (red) squares with an azure edging and the device of a plough.
The State Flag shall be the Croatian national red-white-blue tricolor.
The same flag with the national heraldic shield shall be used as commercial flag.
Origin and Purpose, Characteristics and Principles of the Neutral Peasant Republic of Croatia.
I. World and Home Factors which have been at Work in making small nations subjects of international law.
(See note on page 1st..)
II. Characteristics of the Neutral Peasant Republic of Croatia.
The Sovereignty of the Nation is absolute and continuous. It is exercised by the nation through a plebiscite on territorial and constitutional questions, and through its right of initiative and referendum on legislative questions. From this absoluteness and continuousness of the national sovereignty results the perfect and unlimited right of national self-determination in all matters of internal state organization.
Croatia, consequently, is a Plebiscitary Republic.
According to the established principle of the constitutional democracy, the decision of all state affairs lies in the hands of the majority of representatives returned at a general election.
The peasantry of Croatia, forming the overwhelming majority of the nation, is incontestably entitled to this right of decision the moment it has won that majority at a general election.
Croatia, consequently, is a peasant republic.
Perfect neutrality in every international conflict, besides the acknowledgment of its right to self- determination, has, ever since the end of the world war, been the very question of every small nation’s existence. A standing army is generally, and among peasants particularly, apt to undermine the foundations of morals, wealth-production, civilization and liberty. For these reasons our plebiscitary republic is pacific and neutral. There shall be no standing army, but all citizens shall have to make themselves fit for the defence of their home and country according to the provisions laid down by a special National Defense Act.
The most elementary military instruction shall always be combined with general instruction as well as with a special teaching of the general principles of wealth- production and with a universal national working obligation.
For the maintenance of internal safety and order a special civil force shall be organized.
For humanity’s sake the following rights shall be safeguarded to every person temporarily or permanently residing on the territory of the Neutral Peasant Republic of Croatia.
a) Personal Safety and Inviolability.
With regard to his or her body every person shall be inviolable. Nobody can be arrested or deprived of his or her personal liberty without a court warrant adducing legal grounds for this proceeding. This warrant shall be read to or served on the person to be arrested before the very act of arrest.
The civil force responsible for the maintenance of public order shall be authorized to arrest without such a warrant persons caught in the very act of a murder, robbery, arson, burglary or theft, and shall immediately hand them over to a court.
The arrested person shall be released, if 24 hours have elapsed after his or her arrest, and the court has failed, in either case, to begin with the investigation of his or her case.
The arrested person shall in no case be kept confined for a longer period than a month after the commencement of the trial.
If the court officers fail to fulfill these two provisions of the Constitution, the prisoner shall be at liberty to leave the prison and nobody shall have the right to prevent him from doing so.
Whosoever violates these provisions, and particularly the police and court officers, shall be personally responsible to the law, and their pleading of having acted upon higher orders shall not be accepted.
The acquitted prisoner shall be entitled to a compensation fixed by law. Every grown-up person shall have the right to sue for redress whenever anything against anybody’s personal safety or inviolability has been done.
b) Punishments.
Capital punishment shall be abolished.
The imprisonment shall be combined with work. During the trial such work shall be imposed upon the prisoner as corresponds with his calling, but after judgement has been pronounced, this must not necessarily be so. Duration, kind and enforcement of such work shall be enacted by a special Act.
There shall be no corporal punishments. Any physical ill-treatment of a person on trial or prisoner shall be punished, unless it be a crime of a legally graver kind, by at least an instantaneous dismissal from service.
c) Freedom of Motion.
Within the boundaries of the State territory of Croatia every grown-up person shall be allowed to go where he or she likes, and live where he or she pleases, and nobody shall be interned or confined or expelled either from a community or from the State. Aliens shall not be extradited to be tried for acts considered in their respective countries as political crimes.
d) Inviolability of Home (Dwelling-Place).
A person’s home (dwelling-place) shall be inviolable. A search-warrant, if justified by law, may be granted only by a court, and a person’s premises shall be searched only by a magistrate himself. A member of the civil force may enter a house only when called for assistance by the inmates.
For the observation of these rules both the police and the court officers shall be personally liable to the law. Under a person’s premises his house, the court-yard, and all farm-buildings are to be understood.
e) Letter Secret and Postal Delivery Safeguarded.
The delivery of postal consignments, particularly of letters and newspapers, shall be guaranteed by a special Act, which shall also provide for the inviolability of the letter secret and for the keeping secret of all telegraphic and telephonic messages.
The Peasant State is an organic community of free and organized households.
For the general improvement of every single peasant home (family) there shall be enacted a special Farmer’s Inheritance Act providing also for liberal facilities of peasant husbandry on the lines of the ancient common unwritten social communities law brought into harmony with modern thought and requirements of peasant classes. Another Act shall provide for the exemption of a peasant’s home and property from execution and again another for the internal family organization and authority. The latter act shall also provide for the free establishment of new social communities.
The Family is the primary factor of moral education and acquisition of principles on which general culture of mind and production of wealth are based.
A special act shall lay down the duties of the family as to education, culture of mind and teaching of principles of wealth production.
Both sexes shall have equal rights.
III. Principles of Organization of the Neutral Peasant Republic of Croatia.
a) Freedom of Meeting.
The freedom of meeting, being one of the most natural necessities of man, shall be universal.
The authorities shall in no case and for no reason whatever have the power to forbid the holding of a meeting or gathering.
For gatherings and meetings on private premises or on private ground permission shall have to be asked for of the respective owner.
Of a meeting to be held on a public place generally used or otherwise convenient for that purpose the competent authorities for the maintenance of public order shall have to be notified before the commencement of the meeting at the latest by anyone of its organizers either orally or by a written notice which may be simply posted up on the said authorities’ office door.
Meetings in public buildings which are either generally used or otherwise convenient for that purpose, such as public schools, town halls, etc. shall be held by political associations or parties in the same order as they have been notified, and in the same way as in open public places. By the Meeting Act freedom of speech at all meetings shall be safeguarded according to the principle that any interference with a speech held at a meeting, or with the order during the same, forms an infringement of one of the most natural human rights without which there can be no progress. Any infringement of such nature shall be punished by a special punishment.
b) Liberty of Press.
The Press as the chief means of diffusing human thought and knowledge shall be entirely unhampered. No censorship shall be established and no newspaper shall in any case be suppressed.
Only political associations or parties shall be allowed to issue political newspapers. Every article on politics, every notice, and every article referring to a person’s name shall have to bear the full signature of the writer. All leaflets, irrespective of their contents, shall also have to be signed by the author’s full name.
No special licence from the authorities shall be necessary for the starting and issuing of a newspaper. The responsibility for any article shall always rest with the writer except in case of his absence abroad, when the chief of the political association or party (if the article in question has appeared in its paper) shall be held responsible for it. For personal affronts offered through a newspaper the shortest possible procedure shall be enacted by a special act.
c) Liberty of Associating.
No association of any kind whose activities are public and whose members exercise control over its management and property shall need a permission of the authorities for its starting and working.
Political parties which have been publicly formed and have adopted a party program of their own shall be considered as public associations and normal organs of political life.
Membership of secret societies shall be made punishable by law.
d) Responsibility of Public Officers.
Every public officer shall be entitled to obedience to his orders as long as he keeps within the limit of law. Any disobedience to legal orders as well as the issuing of illegal orders shall have immediately to be accounted for in ordinary court and the offender shall be tried according to criminal law.
For injuries done to individuals by either the state or by the officers of the autonomous bodies, the state or the respective autonomous body (parish, county) shall be made answerable for the injured individuals at an ordinary court.
a) Universal Working Duty. Everybody’s Right to Life worthy of man.
Wealth cannot be produced without work. A nation cannot produce wealth, unless every member of the community does his share of work. The most obvious postulate of justice is that everybody should enjoy the fruits of his or her own work.
There shall be no requisitions at all, and in cases of expropriation for common good the manner shall be provided for under an Act. The State as a wealth-producing community shall pass a special Universal Working Duty Act, a General Farming Experience Act, and an act on everybody’s right to life worthy of man.
The peasant majority of the nation shall be engaged in agricultural pursuits in their free homes.
The life interests of this majority are inseparable from those of other wealth-producing classes.
The peasant state shall ensure the regularity of working of all wealth-producing industries, but it shall especially secure the industrial production of the country by the passing of a Working Men’s Rights Act by which to the whole working classes movement adequate consideration shall be given. Nobody shall be obliged to do any work without a consideration. In future there shall be neither commandeering of vehicles nor of labourers for any purpose whatever. A special act shall be passed on the right to strike.
b) The Foundations of the Production of Wealth. Agrarian Reform. Liberty of following a trade or profession.
Farming forms the foundations of the wealth-production.
A special Act shall be passed to the effect that large estate forests, at present in State, Church and private possession be handed over into the nation’s possession so that pasture and timber thereof shall be adequate to meet the wants of every peasant household, and the fuel wood, as far as possible, the requirements of every other citizen. The existing joint Ownership Parishes Act and the Landed Property Communities Act shall be altered in the same spirit.
All state, church and private large estate ownerships shall be abolished. No estate shall be allowed to surpass in extent the largest existing peasant estate in the same county. On the exceptions to that rule, taking into consideration model farming, co- operative progressive farming, and the farming industry, special act shall be passed. By a special Home Colonization Act farmsteads shall be established for the home colonization of farmers on the whole area got by the breaking up of large estates. The same act shall provide for farming areas left uncultivated and for peasant households where there are no children. Moreover, by a special act provision shall be made for the acquisition of farmsteads of their own by peasants who are agricultural labourers and for persons who, though not being peasants, have satisfied the requirements of the General Farming Experience Act. There shall, first and foremost, take place a restitution to the peasantry (Landed Property Communities, social communities and sole owners) of all that landed property which had been taken away from them by an unjust or inaccurate partition of such property (on the occasion of the so called segregation, when the feudal serfdom was abolished). The vested interests of all present owners in such property shall be taken into account inasmuch as they do not collide with the principles set forth above.
In adjudicating compensations for landed property the principal question before the decision of the issue shall be, how a particular large estate has been acquired. The adjudication of compensations for landed property shall be provided for by a special Compensation Act.
Everybody shall be allowed to follow any occupation, and particularly any trade he has learnt and to the extent of his skill. Under a special act special qualification shall be required for the exercise of, and the control shall be established over, professions having any relation to human life or health, or being of primary importance to the people.
Every kind of trade shall be perfectly free, but special tariff advantages shall be granted only to co-operative societies of producers and consumers.
On principle, there shall be no custom duties. Subject to custom duties shall be made by law only articles of luxury, but other kinds of goods only in cases of a foreign state trade policy making the adoption of this course imperative.
c) Banking and Credit.
All the banking business done should go to increase and improve the production, but particularly so of agricultural production.
The Republic will issue paper and metal money as a legal tender for the exchange of goods, and will guarantee for its value.
A special Act shall provide for the encouragement of granting individual credits to farmers and for the promotion of the accumulating co-operative farmers’ savings to enable the farmers to supply their wants, and to exercise control over the transactions of every single banking institution.
A normal development of the whole national economic life is conditioned by an orderly working and organization of parish, county and state finances. The fundamental principles of these finances shall be laid down by the Constitution.
d) General Insurance.
General Insurance shall be enacted by law to provide for the relief of persons suddenly becoming disabled to earn their living and especially for old age, lest anybody should, without his or her own fault, go without the means of living.
In the same manner, lest anybody should suffer loss of property without his or her own fault, general insurance of all property shall be enacted against damage done by elementary disasters such as fire, flood, hail-storm, earthquake, as well as epidemics.
a) Religion.
Religion is the foundation of morals. Religion in general and the Christian doctrine in particular is the foundation of sound education.
Christian Churches and all public religious communities shall enjoy perfect freedom of teaching and professing their religion, of observing their religious rites, and of intercourse with their coreligionists and church authorities without the boundaries the Republic.
b) Judiciary.
Under a special Judges’ Independence Act the separateness of the judiciary from legislature and government as well as the independence of judges shall be safeguarded.
There shall be neither military nor other special courts nor special police and administrative courts.
The court proceedings shall as a rule take place in the centre of the economics parish or, if necessary, on the spot.
Proceedings, at least those in the lowest courts, shall be public and oral. Expeditiousness of legal proceedings shall be enacted under special acts.
The people’s share in the legal proceedings through its jurors and assessors shall be regulated by special laws.
Every person charged with felony or misdemeanor shall be put on his or her trial before the jury.
The jury lists shall be made out in the manner that the majority of the jurors shall consist of peasant household heads of the district of the competent court.
The court shall be competent to examine the laws of the country as to their being in harmony with the Constitution as well as the legality of various decrees. They shall be competent to decide in disputes on competence between the national government and the autonomous authorities as well as in disputes of individual citizens with either the government or the autonomous authorities.
c) Education.
National education in school and without it being a matter of concern of the whole nation, the whole Republic shall take not only the principal care of the national education but shall also, if need be, bear the necessary expenses.
The elementary school shall bear distinctively peasant characteristics having for its primary object a thorough and lasting literacy of the people.
1) School for Literacy.
The economic parish shall in every village (hamlet, place) establish a public school where children and grown-up people shall be taught reading and writing gratuitously. Children shall be supplied with books and stationery gratuitously, and all expenses arising therefrom shall be borne jointly by the parish, the county and the whole Republic as enacted by a special Literacy Act.
2) Common National School.
With regard to the cultural and wealth-producing principles taught in the Common National (elementary) School in villages as well as in towns the said school shall be an eminently peasant institution.
3) General Training of the Youth of the Country to Work. Learning of Russian and German Languages.
All male and female pupils shall, after leaving the Common National (elementary), School. for a period of at least two years, be trained to various practical wealth-producing trades according to the existing facilities or expediency, but always combined with general mind cultivating instruction and practical teaching of the Russian and German languages.
4) National School for General Instruction.
All the existing, so called secondary schools (grammar-schools, secondary schools where ancient languages have been substituted by modern languages, and lyceums) shall be abolished. They shall be substituted by National Schools for General Instruction with a curriculum extending over a period of no more than 4 years. Grown-up people shall also be allowed to attend these schools. Hand in hand with this instruction shall be conducted the training to practical work, either during the scholastic year or during the prolonged vacations.
In these schools there shall be neither marks nor certificates given as in present use, and English shall be taught in them.
Only those pupils who have regularly for two years attended above mentioned practical training courses shall be allowed to attend this National School for General Instruction.
5) Technical and Trade Schools.
Besides National School for General Instruction there shall be established a large number of special technical and trade-school(agricultural, handicraft and commercial schools) where instruction shall be given simultaneously with that in the National Schools for General Instruction.
Besides continuation courses for the Russian and German languages there shall be special courses held in these schools for general instruction.
On leaving the National School for General Instruction students shall have choice to enter schools for learned professions to study for various professions such as schools for agriculture, law, architecture, engineering, surveying, pharmacy, veterinary science, and schools for teachers of elementary schools. The curriculum of these schools shall not extend over more than three years.
The existing University in its present form, pretending to be the highest school, shall be abolished and transformed into a number of scientific institutions. The Faculty of Medicine and the High Technical School (School of Engineering) shall be retained and there shall be established a Professorial Faculty for professors going to be teachers of National Schools for General Instruction and of Schools for various learned professions.
Lectures given at the Professorial Faculty shall be free, but to lectures given at various University scientific institutions shall be admitted only persons (students) able to show at an entrance examination a sufficient knowledge to attend the lectures with profit.
6) Other Educational Institutions not connected with schools.
Private Schools.
The organization of other educational institutions not connected with schools shall be regulated by a special Act.
Anybody may establish various schools and hold courses provided they shall harmonize with the spirit of this Constitution and shall keep within the limit of the School Act.
d) Public Health.
The citizens of the State form the main source of its vitality and intrinsic value. Under a special Public Health Act sanitary administration shall equally be provided both for villages and towns so that even the most indigent part of population shall have the benefit of medical attendance and medicine.
C. SPECIAL SECTION: Organization of the Neutral Peasant Republic of Croatia.
I. Exercise of National Sovereignty.
By virtue of its absolute and continuous sovereignty the nation will organize the whole of its cultural and wealth-producing activities, determine every citizen’s rights and duties and see to their being carried out either directly itself or through the agency of its elected representatives or appointed national officers respectively.
The boundaries of the country or state established by the nation’s history can be rectified only by the nation’s plebiscite demanded by a majority of grown- up citizens (electors) of a boundary county.
100,000 citizens can by a petition signed by their own hands demand a plebiscite to be held on the following points:
1.) the convening and the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly;
2.) the closing of a session of the Legislative Assembly before the expiration of its legal period;
3.) the resignation of the president and vice-presidents of the Republic.
30,000 grown-up citizens can by a petition signed by their own hands suggest the passing through the Assembly of a new bill or the making of an amendment or the abolition of an existing law (legislative initiative).
By the same kind of petition the nation may demand a plebiscite for the sanction of any law within a period of 2 months from its having been passed through the Assembly (referendum).
Laws relating to vital national questions – such as alliance with foreign states, raising loans without the boundaries of Croatia, making of laws of the reorganization of land-ownership and inheritance relations (the agrarian reform) – shall have no legal power without this referendum.
The registering of signatures as well as all the business of conducting the plebiscite and the referendum shall be done by the courts as laid down by a special Act.
a) National Constituent Assembly. National Legislative Assembly.
Members for the National Constituent Assembly shall be elected in the same way as those for the Legislative Assembly with the difference that for every single member of the former only half the number of votes necessary for the election of the latter shall be required.
It shall assemble a fortnight after the general election has taken place. It shall have sovereign powers and shall dissolve itself of its own will.
If three months have elapsed after its convening, the nation may address a petition to the president of the Republic demanding a plebiscite on the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. This petition must bear original signatures of at least 100,000 citizens.
All laws are made by the National Legislative Assembly whose members are elected for a period of 4 years. The suffrage is universal, exercised equally by men and women voters, the only restriction being the age which must not be less than 18 years.
Statutory elections shall take place on the first Sunday in September, but if the Assembly has been dissolved, they shall be held on 9th Sunday after its dissolution.
The number of representatives is not fixed, but depends on the number of given votes.
A representative is elected, if 6000 electors have voted for him.
Every party shall put forward a list for its candidates for all constituencies of Croatia. By the same act of voting for a candidate the voters vote also for the candidate’s party. A candidate for whom 6000 voters have voted shall be considered as elected. Any number of votes failing to reach this total or exceeding it shall be accounted in favor of the candidate’s party.
Besides those candidates who have been elected representatives by receiving the full 6000 votes, every party shall be allotted the number of representatives resulting from the division of the remaining total of given votes by 6000, the mode of the allotment being as follows. The candidate who has received the largest majority of votes next 6000, shall be elected first and so on until the remainder of the sum total of votes to be divided in this manner has been reached. If this latter remainder exceeds 3000 votes, one more representative shall be allotted to the party which has got them.
Every citizen possessing the right of voting shall be eligible for a representative.
Elections shall take place in parishes. They shall be conducted by courts. Under a special Act delegates of every party interested in the contest shall be admitted. The Board of Seven (the highest court of justice) shall examine and determine the validity of the return of every single elected representative.
The ordinary session of the Assembly shall begin on the 15th October and end on the 15th March. The assembly shall sit without interruption on weekdays only.
Extraordinary sessions may be summoned:
1) if demanded by one fifth of representatives;
2) if the Assembly convenes after having previously been dissolved;
3) if a petition with legal initiative has been presented by the nation;
4) if a question of immunity of a member arises; and lastly
5) if a substitute of the president has to be elected.
Every debate must be attended by at least one third of all the representatives, and when a vote is going to be proposed, by at least one half.
National representatives i.e. members of the Constituent Assembly and the Legislative Assembly shall enjoy not only general personal inviolability which is guaranteed to them as to human beings, but they shall also enjoy an absolute immunity for anything they have said or written in the Assembly or without it during the period of their being representatives, irrespective of the Assembly sitting or not, as well as during the time of the dissolution of the Assembly until the elections have taken place.
For none of his doing, either in speech or in writing, during that period shall a representative ever be called to account.
If a representative should be caught in the very act of committing a crime involving the loss of his claim to immunity from the arrest safeguarded to any person by this Constitution, notice shall at once be given to the president of the Assembly. The president shall, if the Assembly is in session, on the same day, and if in recess, within three days, assemble the Sessional Committee of Immunity which shall by a vote of two thirds of all its members present decide whether judicial proceedings should be instituted against that member or not. This resolution shall have to be adopted by the whole body of representatives of the Assembly within 3 days, if the same is sitting, and within 8 days, if not.
But, if all the measures as here set down have not been taken, such a representative shall be considered free and shall be at liberty to leave the prison, and no person, under personal responsibility, shall have any right to prevent him from doing so.
For any other action done by a member only the Assembly shall have the power to declare that member deprived of his privilege of immunity on the motion of two thirds of the members of the Immunity Committee.
The Privilege of Immunity shall become operative the moment, when the District or the Chief Election Committee has declared a candidate elected by a sufficient number of votes, and it shall become void the moment, when the Chief Election Committee has ascertained the number of the newly elected representatives.
The right of voters to be elected representatives themselves being practically another aspect of the right of voting of all the electors and consequently an act of national sovereignty, any check to personal liberty of an elected representative, on whatever valid judgement it might have been based, shall be stopped the moment, when the privilege of Immunity has taken effect.
b) County Meeting.
The County Meeting shall consist of an equal number of delegates from all the associated economic parishes forming a county. These delegates shall be elected by the Parish Meeting for a period of 4 years from among all grown-up parishioners. They shall be elected at the same election as the parish councillors.
Every two years half the number of the members of the County Meeting shall be re-elected.
The County Meeting shall be empowered to make by-laws within the limits of its autonomy.
The management of the county affairs shall be conducted according to the established principles of progressive community co- operation by the County Administration Committee presided over by a president called zupan.
This committee and its president shall be elected by the County Meeting.
c) Parish Meeting, Parish Council.
Parish Meeting shall consist of all grown-up parishioners of unblemished character. It shall assemble, discuss and conduct business on the principles of progressive community co-operation. The Parish Meeting shall elect the parish councillors whose president shall be called mayor (nacelnik).
It shall have the power fo making by-laws within the limits of its autonomy.
The whole existing political administration shall be abolished, and the division of the country into political administrative parishes, political administrative districts and political administrative counties shall disappear.
The existing, purely political, administration, largely supported by the police force, shall be substituted by the administration on economical and sanitary principles.
a.) The Peasant’s Household or Home.
The fundamental unit of this administration shall be the peasant’s household or home i. e. every farm (homestead) as the primary wealth-producing and educational unit bearing the general national characteristics.
These national characteristics shall mainly depend on the number of the members of a farmer’s family and each representative (male or female) of such a farmer’s family or farmer’s household a respectively shall be given, under a the Economic Parishes Act, as many votes in the parish as there are persons in his family.
The legal titles and position of town-residing families and particularly of the working class families as well as of all families having no home (homestead) of their own shall be formulated by a special Act.
b) Economic Parish.
The primary territorial unit of the whole of this administration shall be the economic parish which shall, as a rule, consist of every village by itself, but where people want it or circumstances require it, it shall consist of several small villages or hamlets, principally of such only as are within the limit of a landed property community or a parish forming at present one tax-collecting unit. A special Economic Parishes Autonomy Act shall be passed on the principles of the general and special peasant progressive community co-operation.
The extent of the sphere of the parish autonomy shall be the same as that of the county, and shall be limited only by actual ability of exercising it. The economic parish as a member of a county shall perform only those duties the performance of which it has voluntarily engaged, and it is only through this function that it shall be considered as an organ of the county.
To meet the expenses incurred by its own sphere of activity the parish shall possess quite independent means obtained by levying of parish rates (sources of taxation and amount of rates to be fixed by the parish council) e. g. tobacco-growing, distilling alcoholic drinks and other similar taxes not imposed by the state itself.
c) County
Counties are formed by the voluntary association of economic parishes. They form organizations of a wider area and simultaneously of a higher degree of wealth-production, education and national health. Their sphere of action shall be laid down by a special County Organization Act.
Under this act the manner of Association of economic parishes into permanent county areas shall be enacted. All economic parishes within the boundaries of the existing political districts shall without delay join to form temporary counties, and the management of their affairs shall remain in the hands of the existing county and district qualified civil service staffs.
Under a special County Self- Government Act the county shall retain its independence in all matters except those belonging to the state sphere of action, such being: country finance, national defense, judiciary (with a special organization of its own), schools, from the National School for General Instruction upwards, as well as all matters bearing upon the production of wealth, means of communication and public health inasmuch as the last mentioned three relate to the whole country or fall within the sphere of international agreements and obligations respectively.
The government of the country cannot make the county its organ in any sphere of its activities, but it may attach to the county civil service staff special government expert officers whose duty shall be to perform functions having reference to matters concerning the whole state.
To meet the expenses incurred by the management of affairs within its own sphere of activity the county shall possess independent financial means of its own.
Both the economic parish and the county shall be autonomous (self-governing) in the fullest sense of these words. These words mean that both the parish and the county shall have the power, with in the limits of the law, to make their own by-laws with binding legal power, and that they shall not be interfered with either by the President of the Republic or the government of the country.
A special Poor Parishes and Counties Grants Act shall lay down the manner of granting poor parishes and counties of the whole republic financial aid for all those needs which are of common national interest.
The parish by-laws shall be made by the Parish Meeting and those of the county by the County Meeting. These by-laws shall be submitted to the national Government with the only purpose of having them examined as to their keeping within the limits of the Parish and County Autonomy Act.
If the national Government be of opinion that these limits have been exceeded, the by-laws shall at once be presented to the Board of Seven who shall have to decide the matter at issue within a month at the latest. If the said Board does not decide it within that period, the Government shall return the by-laws to the parish or county respectively provided with the only remark that they have been examined. In no case shall the by-laws remain with the Government longer than a month.
d) Municipal Self-Government.
The title of Royal Free Town shall be abolished.
The economic parishes shall in future not be allowed to unite with urban districts, whereas the former rural administrative parishes and the individual urban districts belonging to the same tax-collecting areas and having a predominant peasant population shall be allowed under Economic Parishes Act to separate from urban districts and join the economic counties.
Under a special Urban Districts Self-Government Act towns shall be given autonomy on the same scale as economic counties so that the working classes, the tradespeople and the remaining wealth- producing town population shall actually have in their hands the decision in all matters of town government through the town-council elected on the principle of the universal secret equal suffrage.
National affairs shall be administered by the President of the Republic together with the National Government.
a) National Affairs.
The principal national affairs are:
1) Administration of justice.
2) Production of Wealth of the Nation.
3) National Education and Instruction.
4) National Health.
5) National Defense.
6) Permanent Relations with other Nations and States.
7) State Finance.
A minister shall be entrusted with the management of each of these departments. He must possess adequate qualification necessary for the efficient working of his department. He may be, but need not be a member of the National Assembly. He shall conduct business with the help of other specialty qualified officers (deputy ministers) each of whom shall be the head of a special ministry sub-department.
The specially qualified officers at the head of various ministry sub-departments shall be called deputy ministers. They shall perform their work according to the instructions received from the minister and under the control of specially delegated Assembly Commissioners chosen from among the representatives.
A special Government, Organization Act shall lay down the controlling duties of the Controlling Assembly Commissioners and the duties of the deputy ministers.
b) The President of the Republic (Ban.)
At the head of the administration of National Affairs shall be the president of the Republic, called also Ban. He shall be elected for a period of 4 years by a plebiscite to be held on the first Sunday of May and shall enter upon his office on the 1-st of July of the same year.
Any person entitled to be elected a representative shall also be eligible for the president, if nominated by 60,000 electors or by that party of the Assembly which has received that number of votes at last election. The two vice- presidents shall also be chosen at the same election.
In case of the president’s death, resignation, absence or inability (indisposition or otherwise) the first vice-president shall act as his substitute during his absence or till the end of the period for which he has been elected. The second vice-president shall act as the substitute of the first vice- president in the same way in all above mentioned cases.
As president elect and vice- presidents elect respectively shall be considered those candidates for whom the largest number of electors has voted. The president cannot be simultaneously a representative nor can the vice- presidents act as representatives so long as they are performing the duties of a vice president.
The official residence of the president shall be the city of Zagreb.
The president is the representative of the Republic and the head of the National Government, the members of which he alone shall be authorized to appoint and remove. He shall choose the various members of the Government from among the representatives of the National Assembly and other citizens.
The National Government shall administer all national affairs under the political responsibility of the president, and the president shall be responsible for his policy only to the nation.
The Nation as well as the Assembly can, the former by a petition with 100,000 original signatures registered within a month, the latter by means of a resolution carried by two thirds of all its members, demand the president’s resignation.
On the 4th Sunday after the Board of Seven have found that the petition submitted has been properly signed or 4 weeks after the resolution demanding the president’s resignation has been passed by the Assembly, a plebiscite using the formula: “the president so and so has to resign” or “has not to resign” shall be held.
If the plebiscite decides for the president’s resignation, not only the president but also both the vice-presidents shall resign. The Assembly shall, if sitting, without delay, with a simple majority and within 24 hours after the plebiscite at the latest, and, if not sitting, within 8 days, elect the deputy president.
On the 4th Sunday after the deputy president’s election a general election shall take place with the purpose of electing the new president. If between the deputy president’s election and the first Sunday of May there should happen to be an interval of only 6 months or less, the said extraordinary president’s election shall not take place, but the president who had been newly elected at an ordinary election shall enter upon his office as soon as the Board of Seven have declared him elected. The president who has been elected at an extraordinary election shall also immediately enter upon his office.
A special Presidential Election Act shall be passed upon presidential election, on the president’s entering upon office, and on every change in the presidency of the Republic.
c) Relations to other Nations and States.
The Republic of Croatia will never use secret diplomacy in international affairs and will not recognize any secret international treaties.
The Neutral Peasant Republic of Croatia is a living member of the great human community which is slowly but surely undergoing the transformation into a great world federative republic.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs shall have no so-called diplomatists. Abroad, the Republic, of Croatia as an organization of both peculiarly Croatian and general human wealth-producing and cultural elements shall have only her consuls whose duty shall be to watch her commercial and cultural interests. Their main care shall be to look after life, health and well-being of her citizens abroad.
d) Defence and Safety of Home and Country.
There shall be no Universal Military standing army training Duty in the Republic. It shall be substituted by an universal national working duty system including the general obligation of home and country defence. Every person living within the territory of the republic shall be required for a period of 6 months to do work for the republic as specified by the Universal Working Duty Act.
For the most part of this period, but at least for 4 months, every person shall have to do work of public utility such as building roads, hydraulic and drainage work, etc., tending to the raising of the productivity of soil and other kinds of similar public work with the purpose of cutting down national expenditure as much as possible by enabling the Government to dispense with paid work.
Less time, but no more than two months, of this period shall be employed on all kinds of physical exercise and on the special t training for the defence of Home and Country (militia). If any special training should require more time, the fittest men shall, if necessary, be chosen, who shall then devote even full 6 months to that training.
The Universal National Working Duty can be imposed on women only by a plebiscite which shall be held as soon as demanded by a petition of 30,000 grown-up inhabitants of the Republic, but women shall be employed only near their homes, and in such a manner that neither their honour nor health shall suffer in any way.
Everybody’s duty to defend his home and country shall last to his death.
With the national defence shall be combined also the organization of a special civil force for the maintenance of public order. The training required for the commanders of this civil force as well as the headquarters of the respective militia districts shall be fixed by a special Act. The area of this militia districts shall correspond to that of jurisdictional and tax-collecting districts.
e) State Finance.
Progressive income-tax as the principal state tax shall be imposed by a special Act. Every year, during the budget debate, the National Assembly shall fix the amount of the income-tax based on the assessment of the tax-payers, proportionally to their income, according to the progressive principle i. e. the larger the income the larger the percentage of the income-tax.
The amount of the income absolutely necessary for a person’s subsistence shall be fixed by law and shall not be taxed with more than 1 per cent.
On the income-tax no rates shall be levied.
Revenue-taxes can be imposed only by the National Assembly, but county and parish rates respectively only by the county and parish meeting respectively.
No one can be exempted from taxation.
Neither taxes nor any kinds of rates shall be imposed on the most necessary means of supporting life such as bread and flour, salt, milk, kerosine.
No state, county or parish moneys shall be expended unless their expenditure has been provided for by the budget, the county, or parish estimates respectively.
The annual budget shall be debated and voted upon by the National Assembly, and shall remain in force only a calendar year.
The National Government shall present to the National Assembly the budget for the coming year together with the statement of income and outgoings for the previous year. The National Assembly shall have no power to raise the various items of expenditures as forecasted in the estimates, but it shall have the power to cut them down or even to strike them off. If there should happen to be any savings, the Assembly alone shall be authorized to decide what use should be made of them.
The state, county and parish estimates respectively shall always be debated and voted upon for the coming financial year. If the state, county or parish estimates respectively for the coming year have not been voted for, nobody shall be obliged to pay those state taxes, and county or parish rates respectively which have not yet been voted for by the National Assembly, the County and the Parish Councils, so long as the said estimates lack the sanction of these bodies. Any demand for payment of such taxes and rates by the authorities or even unauthorized enforcement of such payments shall be punished as an abuse of official authority.
The exclusive right (monopoly) to sell certain articles of general consumption shall be reserved to, and shall be exercised only by, the Republic.
Under the Auditors’ Act a special Government Audit Department shall be established with the purpose of auditing all State accounts.
Under the Auditors’ Independence, Qualification and Responsibility Act the independence competence and responsibility before the Board of Seven of the whole audit official staff shall be safeguarded.
The duties of the Audit Department shall be to examine and correct the state, county and parish estimates in the manner specified by a special act and authorize the appropriation of state, county and parish moneys granted. It shall further watch the keeping of expenditure within the limits of the budget. It shall moreover point out those items of county and parish expenditure which have exceeded the amount by the county and parish estimates, and it shall finally close the State accounts.
The Audit Department shall present the annual budget financial statement with a report and a freely expressed comment thereon, through the president of the Republic to the National Assembly for the final examination and sanction within reasonable time to enable the National Government to present to the Assembly the Financial Statement for the past year simultaneously with the budget for the coming year.
For each district forming a tax-collecting area the Republic shall establish a tax-collecting office. The area of these districts shall coincide with that of jurisdictional and militia district. They shall be smaller than the existing administrative districts, but larger than the existing administrative parishes, the aim of the Republic being to facilitate the collection of taxes by tax-collecting offices in all the parishes of their area.
Sentences shall be pronounced in the name of justice and law.
Courts of justice can be established and abolished only by law.
Judges shall be independent. They can be neither removed to another place, nor pensioned off before the completion of their 65th year, nor dismissed against their own will unless a competent judgement has been pronounced against them for bad behavior.
After the completion of his 65th year every judge must retire with a pension.
Vacancies on the staff of judges of Low Courts shall be filled on the competitive system, the High Court giving preference in appointments to those competitors who have been longest in the possession of a qualifying examination certificate. Judges for the Court of Appeal and the Board of Seven shall be chosen by the members of these courts themselves among the whole body of judges and barristers of the country.
The first judges of all courts to be appointed shall be nominated by the president of the republic himself. Judges shall not be classed according to their salaries which shall be increased gradually and automatically after a certain number of years to be fixed by law, according to the length of service.
One hundred of grown-up citizens (male or female) of unblemished character earning their own livelihood, and at least 30 years old can by a petition signed by their own hands demand from the Board of Seven that an official enquiry should be instituted against a judge. Such an enquiry shall commence at once and shall be terminated within a month at the latest by a judgement pronounced jointly by the court and the jury.
The area to be served by the lowest courts shall be determined by a special law. These areas shall be called jurisdictional districts and coincide with the tax collecting and militia districts respectively.
III. Final Organization Work of the Neutral Peasant Republic of Croatia.
Acts by which the provisions of the Constitution are carried out and supplemented.
All Acts mention of which is made in this Constitution shall form an integral whole together with the Constitution. They are to be made by the Assembly during its first ordinary session or during the summer extraordinary session of the same year, as the case may be.
Resolutions of the Croatian Representative Body, Returned at General Election on March 18, 1923, Passed in its First Plenary Sitting, Held at Zagreb, The Capital City of Croatia, on March 25, 1923.
The Representative Body of the Croatian Nation returned at the general election hold on the territory of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes on the March 18, 1923., i. e., the overwhelming majority of the total number of representatives elected within the indisputable territory of the Croatian Nation (Croatia-Slavonia-Dalmatia), to wit, 61 out of 83, and a minority of representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina – 9 out of 48 – this minority being supported for the first time in the Bosnian history by both Mussulman and Catholic Croats united in the great movement for a new type of government based on social justice, which movement is as early as now backed by the majority of Bosnian population – passed in its first plenary sitting of the March 25, 1923, held at Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, the resolutions as follows:
The Croatian Representative Body accepts, agrees to, and approves of, all declarations, resolutions, policies and, in the main, all proceedings of the late Representative Body returned at the elections of Nov. 28, 1920. Accordingly, this Representative Body regards itself as the sole legal and legitimate successor of the Croatian Parliament (Sabor) of Zagreb, which de jure never has discontinued to exist, since it could be neither dissolved nor abolished by any act not emanating from the Constituent Assembly of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, but only by passage of a resolution or act voted upon by the said Constituent Assembly and adopted by a qualified majority of the said Assembly under exclusion of any outvoting, these conditions being required by the resolution of the Croatian Parliament passed on October 29, 1918, but which resolution has been infringed upon by the Belgrade men in power.
This Representative Body regards itself, as well as the Representative Body elected in 1920 regarded itself, as Parliament (Sabor) of the Croatian Nation. In omitting, however, a formal installation as parliament it does so only to ward off the danger of civil or internal war, which, from the pacifist and humanitarian standpoint of this Representative Body, would be a crime and an evil even more atrocious than an international war.
The foundations of the policy of this Representative Body shall remain:
1) Interpreting, respecting, and enforcing the will of the Croatian people;
2) Full and unlimited right of national self-determination;
3) Practical pacifism and real humanitarianism, which for our country can be secured only through its organization and recognition as a neutral peasant republic.
A just and durable agreement between the Croatian Nation and the Serbian Nation shall constitute, as well as it did heretofore, one of the chief tasks of the policies of the Croatian Representative Body.
This Representative Body considers the humanitarian and republican program of the Croatian people as the first and foremost aim to be realized. It is this very aim towards which all efforts shall be directed and on which depends the solution of the question, whether or not a delegation of Croatian representatives shall be sent to Belgrade.
The Croatian Representative Body regards the actual common international frontiers of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as a territorial adjustment most suitable to the present political conditions in Europe, this being so both from the Croatian national point of view and from the European point of view.
It is so from the Croatian point of view, because the Croatian people have been united within the common frontiers of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as never before in their history, and more especially so, because those common frontiers embrace now, after centuries of separation, the whole incontrovertible territory of the Croatian Nation (Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia), whose more than millennial continuity as a sovereign and more or less independent state has never been interrupted from 852 AD to October 29, 1918, on which day the Croatian Parliament in Zagreb proclaimed Croatia (Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia) a fully independent state. This full independence of the Croatian state did immediately take effect in the practical exercise of this independence under recognition by the kingdom of Serbia, after which Croatia effected the mutual association with Bosnia, Herzegovina, Slovenia, Batchka, Banat, Barania into a federative republic with its center in Zagreb, which republic was officially styled “The state of the National Council of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs” and was in a solemn way recognized by the kingdom of Serbia under a special treaty agreed upon, and signed, at Geneva, November 9, 1918, by the Serbian government (Nikola Pashich) and representatives of all Serbian parliamentary parties on the Serbian part, and by Dr. Koroshetz and Dr. Trumbich on the part of the National Council of Zagreb.
Furthermore, this actual community of international frontiers among the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes is a question of European and universal interest, because every change of these common frontiers – and particularly a violent one – would be able to provoke such conflicts and, on the part of certain neighbors, such pretensions as would endanger European and even world peace.
The Croatian Representative Body regards as null and void and as non- binding upon the Croatian Nation, and consequently, lacking any legal and moral value, all laws, regulations, ordinances and other acts issued or imposed by the government of Belgrade as far as they affect the indisputable national territory of Croatia, because all these laws, rules, regulations and acts have been made without any previous consultation of, or approbation by, the Croatian Parliament; have been made contrary to the clearly expressed will, and in spite of reiterated protests, and without any concurrence, of the Croatian Representative Body elected in 1920; finally, because the enforcement of these laws, rules, regulations and decrees is tolerated, and the Belgrade men of power are obeyed, by the Croatian people only as far as the latter are forced to do so under the pressure of threats of armed force or under the real application of that force.
In particular, this Representative Body, resuming the resolutions of the late Representative Body returned in November, 1920, declares and proclaims as null and void, and without any binding force on Croatia (Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia) both all Belgrade acts passed on loans and all acts, rules, regulations and decisions through which the Belgrade men in power have aimed and still are aiming to deprive Croatia of her national and state property, and at settling the great economical and social problems on lines contrary both to the centennially established principles of peasant freehold and to the existing landed property conditions, over which the political authorities, and still much less the agents of the Ministry of Police, have no legal power, this especially being so of the important problem of agrarian reform.
This Representative Body considers, as did the late Representative Body, the whole administration of the Belgrade government over Croatia as a mere usurpation, against which a continuous resistance is practiced both by the Croatian people as a whole and by the overwhelming majority of the Croats as individual citizens, so that this usurpation is incapable of establishing any tolerable, much less settled, political and economical conditions. If the innumerable acts of violence, lawlessness and ordinary crimes perpetrated by the agents of Belgrade authorities, particularly the barbarous every day bastinado of citizens, civilians and soldiers, the cruel torturing in all, and in particular in military prisons, have caused no revolution, civil war, and foreign intervention this fact is to be ascribed only and solely to the high standard of general consciousness of Croatian people and to the extraordinary strength of their political organization able both to keep the Belgrade oppression and violence within certain limits and to maintain the general conviction that such a political ability and organization accompanied by the triumphant electoral results of March 18, 1923, will finally awaken such an interest of the public opinion of European nations and more especially the attention of the League of Nations all to inspire the Belgrade men of power with the respect for the self-determination of the Croatian people, unless their love for justice and a correct understanding of interests common to both peoples, Croatian and Serbian, are not strong enough to incline them to that respect.
The Croatian Representative Body in concordance with the new international public law regards itself fully equal to every parliament. In the event of failure of all attempts to come to a just agreement with the Serbian people, the condition of which agreement is that the Croatian political and national equality with the Serbian political and national individuality shall be recognized, this Representative Body will apply for support to all European and other parliaments, particularly to the congress of the United States of America, which in its courses of action is not bound by those regards which to an extent restrict European parliaments and which in its highly favorable position may, prior to any other, take into consideration the most important fact that the Croatian people in their claim to independence are not only perfectly unanimous, but also possess all cultural, social, economical and political prerequisites for actual exercise of their sovereignty, so that they are in no need of any military, financial or any other foreign help whatsoever, and want only a purely moral support.
An appeal from such an authority will probably persuade the Belgrade government that now, after the world war, and almost in the very center of Europe, it may not by most brutal and most violent methods of the darkest periods of the Middle Ages continue to carry out a regime of oppression and plunder over the whole Croatian Nation under the mendacious plea of the existence of one tri-named nation of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.