Milošević's rise

Milošević address Serbs at Kosovo Polje in 1989. (public source)

Milošević addresses Serbs at Kosovo Polje on April 24, 1989. (Courtesy of  Polaris/Tomislav Peternek)

When he became Serbian Communist Party head in 1987, other party leaders believed he would be easily controlled. Many consider his visit to the Kosovo Polje in 1989, a turning point. Milošević gave a speech recalling the six hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, which served to electrify Serbian national sentiment. His party won the first Serbian multi-party elections with less than 50% of the popular vote, but benefited from an electoral system which gave it 194 of 250 seats.

Seselj speech during the 1990s  (YouTube Printscreen)

Seselj speech during the 1990s (YouTube)

In the face of demonstrations in Belgrade in 1991 against state control of the media, Milošević called in the Yugoslav Army to suppress the protest. In elections in December 1992, his party received less than 30% of the vote, and only 101 seats. He retained power by forming an alliance withVojislav Šešelj's Serbian Radical Party (SRS). Capitalizing on the Serb perception that Serb minorities in Croatia and Bosnia were threatened, the party gained popularity by actively aiding Serb military campaigns in those Republics. Milošević himself became President of Serbia, a position he occupied until 1997.