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Croatian Peasant Party
While Croatia was still under Austro-Hungarian rule, the HSS sought for greater autonomy, peasants' rights and land reform. After World War I and the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, the HSS garned significant popular and electoral support for its advocacy of an independent Croatian state, and its opposition to the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes which the party claimed would be dominated by Serbia.
Despite the party's efforts, the kingdom was established, and the HSS became an opposition party in parliament. Although popular among its constituency, the party's weakness was its limited national appeal and its ethnic and economic-based constituency.
The HSS advocated a federal state in which Croatia would be afforded equal status vis-à-vis Serbia, and the party platform still called for greater Croatian autonomy and eventually independence. With that goal in mind, the HSS renamed itself the Croatian Republican Peasant Party until the royal authorities forced the party to remove the word "Republican" in 1925 because of its anti-royalist connotation.
As the opposition, the party's strategy was to boycott parliamentary sessions which not only allowed Serb politicians to further consolidate power, it also created political instability and hostility. In 1928, Puniša Račić, a Serbian ultra-nationalist, was offended by a comment made by HSS deputies during a parliamentary session, shot and mortally wounded Radić and several other HSS deputies on the chamber floor. Soon after the country was renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929 and all political parties were banned. Some political freedoms were restored in 1931 and the HSS once again was in opposition, but the party became increasingly marginalized as the country slided toward nationalism and ultimately, war.
The party's fortunes declined precipitously with the outbreak of World War II and the German invasion in April 1941. Some party members were divided among those who sympathized with the Croatian fascist Ustasha independence movement, and those whose left-leaning beliefs led them to join the Partisans. But the vast majority of HSS supporters remained passive and neutral for the duration of the war as the Ustasha, the communist-backed Partisans and the royalist Chetniks fought for control.
After the communist victory, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia established one-party rule — the HSS, along with other political parties were declared illegal. It would take another forty-five years for the HSS to reemerge.
In 1990, with the advent of multi-party elections, the HSS was reconstituted and won several seats in the Croatian Parliament. They remained in opposition until the 2000 elections when they received three ministerial portfolios as part of their participation in the winning Social Democratic Party of Croatia-led coalition.
Today, the HSS considers itself among other left-wing European political parties that advocate pro-agrarian policies and greater economic interventionism by the state. On social matters the HSS is largely conservative, supporting a Christian-based morality in public life.
In 2004 the party held ten seats in parliament (nine domestic seats and one minority seat).
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