Bečkerek Programme Cover Image

Бечкеречки програм
Bečkerek Programme

Author(s): Vasilije Đ. Krestić
Subject(s): Political history, 19th Century
Published by: Српска академија наука и уметности

Summary/Abstract: In this paper, the author sheds light on the time and events that led to the creation of the Bečkerek Programme in January 1869, when the Serbian People’s Freethinker Party was formally established. Based on a thorough analysis of the contents of the Programme, compiled by Svetozar Miletić, the author underlines that its main tasks were to preserve the Serbian national and political individuality and religious identity. The Programme was oppositional by nature. It was aimed against the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 and the dualist system. It propounded the radical resolution to the Eastern question, the liberation of the Serbs under the Turkish rule, and the broadening of the Serbian national- -church, i.e. church-educational autonomy. Based on a separate item of the Programme, Miletić’s party espoused state independence and territorial integrity of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia. Vienna and Pest, including the conservative-clerical group of Serbs led by retired general Đorđe Stratimirović, launched a fierce battle against the Bečkerek programme and the party that embraced it. A larger part of the Serbian people from different social strata supported the Programme. Created soon after the conclusion of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, when it was believed that the Dual Monarchy would not survive, but disintegrate, the Bečkerek Programme was highly strung and hardly feasible. In the opposition struggle against the state which, contrary to expectations, was stabilised and reinforced, the Serbs dissipated their strength and it was becoming more evident, by the year, that the Programme’s objectives could not be achieved. The party then began to dissolve. A heavy blow to the party and its programme came from the abolishment of the Military Frontier and conclusion of the Croatian-Hungarian Compromise of 1873, when the Croatian People’s Party turned from a Serbian political partner into a political opponent. Up until the final dissolution of the Serbian People’s Freethinker Party in 1887, the Bečkerek Programme was not changed. Thereafter, both the Serbian People’s Liberal Party and the Serbian People’s Radical Party adopted it as the basis of their political activity, negligibly changing and adapting it to the new social and political needs. When the Radicals adopted the new political programme in 1903/4, the Bečkerek Programme was no longer valid for them. As the author shows, the Programme left its mark in a particular time and for a generation of Serbs in Hungary, which was not the case with any other political programme.