UPI NewsFeature;NEWLN:New leaders, new hopes in Yugoslav elections


BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Communist Party elections in Yugoslavia this year will likely bring the biggest overhaul of government in decades, with the last of Tito's 'war generation' retiring and possibily up to 80 percent of offices filled from younger generations.

The six-month electoral process will culminate with a meeting of the Communist Party Congress in June.


During the six-month period, some 3 million offices are filled from local communes to the highest delegate body, the Federal Assembly.

'These are the elections for changes, and not for the continuation of a crisis,' said Bogdan Trifunovic, president of the Serbian Socialist Alliance. 'We must elect capable, diligent and honest people.'

Observers predict that by the time the election process is finished, up to 80 percent of offices will be held by new people.

Those new leaders, however, will inherit a host of problems. Yugoslavia has more than 1 million people out of work, the inflation rate in 1985 was between 80 and 100 percent and the standard of living has dropped by 40 percent in 6 years.


The Yugoslav Communist Party seized power more thaf 40 years ago, and until now has preferred not to take electoral risks. For years there was only one candidate for each post.

In some cases this year, however, there may be 20 to 25 candidates to chose from to fill 15 posts.

Yugoslavs can vote at least twice, at their workplace and at neighborhood polls, to elect 'delegations.'

The elected delegations propose or name officials to bodies ranging from local governmental to provincial, republic and federal levels.

The election system set up in 1974 for this multi-national country of 23 million has been criticized as complicated and often incomprehens)ble. The current elections are the fourth since then and the second since President Josip Broz Tito, who was elected head of state and leaddr of the Communist Party for life, died May 4, 1980, three weeks before his 88th birthday.

Yugoslavia's six constituent republics and two autonomous provinces will have new parliaments and governments this month. A two-house federal Parliament and a new federal government with four-year tenures will be elected May 15.

The 2.1-million member Communist Party has a slightly different electoral system that ends with the party congress June 25-28 when a new leadership will be elected.


Many current officeholders, members of Tito's 'war generation' of the 1940s, will be turned out because of mandatory retirement.

'The young must get leading jobs in political life,' said Aleksandar Grlickov, 63, president of the Yugoslav Socialist Alliance. He also said more non-party members should be given political jobs.

'The principles of multiple candidates is important for further democratization. If we do not achieve it fully this time, we shall succeed in the next elections for sure.'

In most cases, electoral commissions throughout the country have proposed enough candidates to give voters choices. But in many cases, particularly for top jobs, about 50 or 100 leaders rotate posts among themselves.

Despite Yugoslavia's single-party system, it does not have a strong federal Communist Party or government.

Instead, strong regional government and party organizations in the towns, in the six republics and in the two autonomous provices, often act independently and even in opposition to each other.

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