Ante Markovic


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(b. Konjic, Bosnia, 25 Nov. 1924; d. Zagreb, Croatia, 28 Nov. 2011)

Croat; Prime Minister of Communist Yugoslavia 1989–91 After studying electrical engineering at Zagreb University Markovic went into economic management, making his reputation as director (1961–86) of the Rade Koncar factory, one of Yugoslavia's largest plants. In 1982–6 he was Croatian premier and in 1986–8 Croatian President. In March 1989 he became President of the Federal Executive Council (i.e. Yugoslav premier). Building on the 1988 constitutional amendments, which had extensively liberalized the economy, he put forward a technocratic programme for a ‘completely new type of socialism’, involving economic liberalization and stabilization and strengthening of federal decision-making. By December inflation levels forced him to introduce ‘shock therapy’ measures, involving a wage freeze and tight monetary and fiscal controls, which rapidly brought down inflation and boosted Markovic's popularity with the international political and financial community. However, the disintegration of the country along ethnic lines escalated rapidly after the collapse of the League of Communists in January 1990 and the subsequent nationalist election victories and it became almost impossible to implement federal policy. In July he founded his own federal-technocratic party, the Alliance of Reform Forces, which had some success in Bosnia (5.4 per cent) and Macedonia (9.2 per cent), but failed in Serbia and Montenegro. In 1991 he struggled to maintain republican co-operation and external support but was increasingly sidelined by direct deals between republican leaders. He came to rely on the support of the Yugoslav army and sanctioned, controversially, their intervention in Slovenia in June 1991 to defend Yugoslavia's borders after Slovenia and Croatia declared independence. Shocked at the carnage in Croatia, he tried to bring the army under control by demanding in September the resignation of the Defence Minister and his deputy, but they refused. Faced with a complete breakdown of federal authority he resigned on 20 December, unable to accept a budget in which 86 per cent of expenditure was allocated to the military. An able and well-meaning administrator he was overwhelmed by a tide of nationalism he was powerless to resist. He withdrew from politics and pursued a business career.

Subjects: Politics.

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