The dynamics of violent collapse : centre-periphery elite interaction in Yugoslavia
This thesis attempts to provide an answer to the questions of why the Yugoslav collapse had disintegrative consequences in some of the federal sub-units, but not in others and why in some cases the disruption was accompanied by significant episodes of violent ethnic mobilisation, while in some others it was substantially peaceful. The central argument of this analysis is that different outcomes of the Yugoslav disintegration process were mostly the result of the rational strategies pursued by Yugoslav political actors, given the institutional resources they had at their disposal and the constraints and incentives they faced. It is examined how the Serbian leadership succeeded in gaining control over those federal units which remained part of rump Yugoslavia. Through the manipulation of mass protests organised from above, Milos̆̆ević and his allies forced to resign the leaderships of Kosovo, Vojvodina, and Montenegro. Serbian nationalist meetings became possible thanks to the mobilisational resources made available by the party apparatus, whose functioning remained influenced by the principle of democratic centralism. Different outcomes of the disintegration in terms of ethnic violence are analysed using a rational choice approach to look at the strategies of peripheral and central elites. It is argued that in the first phase of the disintegration, the breakdown of the equilibrium in the Yugoslav liberalised political environment was accelerated by the emergence of a nationalist leadership in Serbia and of a political elite in Ljubljana which accompanied its reformist program with an autonomist agenda. The Croatian and Bosnian wars and Macedonia's peaceful separation marked a second phase of the process, where the federal centre ceased to play any role as an independent actor and where the outcome of the disintegration was mostly the result of strategies employed by the Serbian leadership to exert control over an increasingly narrow Yugoslavia.