The executive branch of the Serbian Republic is headed by the president, elected by the parliament for a four-year term. The legislative branch consists of a unicameral parliament, the Savezna Skupstina, whose members serve four-year terms. The judicial branch is managed by the Federal Court, or Savezni Sud.
Vojvodina is an autonomous province of Serbia. The province has its own parliament and president who self-govern the region.
In 2003, the two remaining Yugoslavian republics officially became one country, Serbia and Montenegro. Serbia and Montenegro were loosely unified as a republic with separate governments, the same army, and different currencies. Montenegro opted to secede from the federation in 2006, and the transition was peaceful.
By 2000, Serbia's economy was devastated after 50 years of socialist inefficiencies, followed by another decade of mismanagement during Slobodan Milosevic's rule. Economic sanctions and damage from NATO air strikes also had negative effects. Inflation was extremely high, as was the unemployment rate. Export levels were down. Many well-educated Serbians emigrated, seeking a better standard of living.
After declaring its intent to join the European Union (EU) by 2014, Serbia's economic reforms began in earnest. Serbia renewed its membership to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. They also submitted a request for accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. By March 2012, Serbia was elevated to EU candidate status.
Other reforms include budgetary controls, efforts to stabilize the exchange rate and reduce inflation, banking sector reform, privatization, attraction of foreign investment, and amendments to laws restricting private sector growth. International financial institutions, such as the World Bank, have backed these developments with loans. The IMF and EU have also given aid packages. Leading foreign investors include Austria, Germany, Greece, and Italy.
Serbia still faces challenges in improving its economy. There is a large trade deficit, unemployment is high, and change occurs more slowly than most would like. All of this makes the economy a key issue for politicians. With more political and economic stabilization, Serbia should see increased foreign investment.
A former Serbian province, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Many Serbians opposed this for two reasons: first, for the protection of the resident Serb minority's interests, and second, because Kosovo has been seen as a hallowed territory for Serbian identity, religion, and history since the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. It is also considered the birthplace of the Serbian Orthodox Church.