The Serbian Right-Wing Parties and Intellectuals in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, 1934-1941

The Serbian Right-Wing Parties and Intellectuals in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, 1934-1941



Institute for Balkan Studies, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SASA)
Institute for Literature and Arts
Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory


Principal reseracher

Dragan Bakić, PhD (Institute for Balkan Studies of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts)



Dušan Fundić, PhD, Research Associate, Institute for Balkan Studies SASA
Rastko Lompar, MA, Research Assistant, Institute for Balkan Studies SASA
Svetlana Šeatović, PhD, Principal Research Fellow, Institute for Literature and Arts
Vladimir Cvetković, PhD, Senior Research Associate, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory


About the project

The case of interwar Yugoslavia has so far been of interest to fascist studies primarily because of the Ustasha movement, which came to rule over the Nazi-puppet Independent State of Croatia during the Second World War. The Serbian-dominated fascist movement, embodied in the ZBOR led by DimitrijeLjotić, which lagged far behind in comparison with the Ustasha in terms of both its strength and role in the war, has also been a subject of research. Much of it was tendentious, reflecting the attitude of its authors (some of them former members of ZBOR) or, alternatively, a product of the state-sponsored sort of historiography in communist Yugoslavia, but more balanced accounts have emerged recently. It was, however, the Yugoslav Radical Union (Jugoslovenska radikalna zajednica ‒ JRZ) that underpinned the regime of Prince Paul (1934-1941), the nature of which can best be described, in line with a number of other regimes at that time, as conservative authoritarianism. Unlike the more extreme rightists, the JRZ has not sparked much interest among historians. This is perhaps not surprising as the “old”, conservative right wing on the European scale has received much less scholarly attention than outright fascism. Given the defining features of the historical era in question, the project will of necessity focus on the distinction between different strands of right-wingers, while acknowledging the common ground of their ideological make-up and policies. This is necessary because the dominant party considered here was JRZ, which was effectively a coalition of the old, conservative political parties with a considerable following across Yugoslavia, with the exception of Croatia. JRZ has been accused of exhibiting fascist leanings, especially during the premiership of Milan Stojadinović (also the first president of the party). On the other hand, virtually nothing has been written about that party under its second and last president Dragiša Cvetković, who also succeeded Stojadinović as prime minister, although it was during the former’s mandate that the Yugoslav regime introduced anti-Semitic measures and formed internment camps for communists. After Stojadinović’s fall from power, he founded the Serbian Radical Party, which became a staunch opposition to the government, especially in respect to their agreement with the Croats, which marked the end of unitary, centralist Yugoslavia. This new and short-lived party, as it was soon suppressed by the government, was apparently firmly positioned on the conservative right wing. The most extreme ZBOR was a negligent political force in its own right, winning no more than 1 per cent of votes in the 1935 and 1938 general elections. Another subject of study is an under-researched example of far-right extremism offered by the politically irrelevant, but dynamic and flamboyant, Yugoslav People’s Party (also known as Borbaši meaning Combatants) which expounded integral Yugoslavism ‒ the notion that the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes constituted a single Yugoslav nation ‒ and aped fascist methods of political activism.



This project aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the main features of political ideology and activities of the Serbian right wing from the assassination of King Alexander Karadjordjević in October 1934 to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia’s involvement in the Second World War in April 1941. This is a period that constitutes a distinctive era in Yugoslav history, which also coincides with the European-wide rise of right-wing extremism. The project will provide a considerable contribution to the existing knowledge of the European right wing in the period concerned.


Financing and duration  

This two-year project (2020-2022) is realised within the scope of the Program for Excellent Projects of Young Researchers (PROMIS) funded by the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia.