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Bosnia and Herzegovina (SBiH) - Election - 2018

On October 7 the voters of Bosnia and Herzegovina cast their ballots for a national presidency and House of Representatives, as well as separate presidents and legislatures for the Muslim-Croat Federation and Republika Srpska.

Bosnian Serb nationalist Milorad Dodik won his community's seat on Bosnia-Herzegovinas three-member presidency, as ethnic Serbian, Muslim, and Croatian parties dominated their regions in the October 7 poll likely to slow the country's advance toward EU integration. Bosnia consists of two entities: the ethnic Serb-dominated Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation of Bosniaks and Croats. The two entities are linked by joint state-level institutions, including a tripartite presidency. The main Bosnian Muslim party said its candidate, Sefik Dzaferovic, will be the Muslim representative in the presidency, while Croats returned Zelijko Komsic to their seat. Dodik, who has led Republika Srpska since 2006, defeated moderate incumbent Mladen Ivanic to take his place in the tripartite presidency. Ivanic conceded defeat.

The largest Bosnian Muslim party, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) , secured the most votes in the national parliament and its Bosnian Muslim-dominated cantons ahead of the largest Bosnian Croat party, HDZ, and Dodik's SNSD. The SNSD, along with coalition partners, was on course to dominate both the Serbian faction in the national parliament and the legislature of Republika Srpska. HDZ and its coalition partners won the most votes of Croats in the national parliament and in the majority Croatian cantons. Turnout was 53.3 percent of the countrys 3.3 million eligible voters, election officials said.

Complicating the election was voting that took place in the Bosniak-Croat Federation without an agreed electoral law in place, which could paralyze efforts to form governments in the entity afterward and lead to the suspension of crucial European Union funds. There were rumors that it was possible that the general elections would not be held since some politicians consider that there is no fair conditions for elections before the changes of the election law. Also, some unconfirmed information said that at least one of constituent nations would boycott the elections if the law remain as it is now.

By mid-2017 the election season in Bosnia and Herzegovina was already in full swing. Although the October 2018 polls were still more than 14 months away, there was a consensus across political lines that the state government was in paralysis. Curiously, none of the major political players was either able or willing to explain the origins of this crisis. In reality, each of the respective blocs made their own unique, cynical contribution to this equation.

The Party of Democratic Action, SDA, the main Bosniak party, and their long-time coalition partner the Alliance for a Better Future, SBB, for instance, were re-energising the hate side of their long-running love-hate relationship. The leader of the Croat Democratic Union in Bosnia, the HDZ, Dragan Covic, with Zagrebs backing, is dusting off proposals for a third entity, even as Croat leaders in Bosnia proper increasingly abandon his almost entirely Herzegovina-based HDZ.

While welcoming the progress made in a number of areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the adoption by PACE of its Recommendation 2025 (2013), and the adoption of an ambitious reform agenda by the authorities in July 2015, the Monitoring Committee remained concerned about the lack of progress in the field of constitutional reform and reform of the election law.

In adopting a draft resolution on 15 December 2017, based on the report by Sir Roger Gale (United Kingdom, EC) and Tiny Kox (Netherlands, UEL), the committee expressed regret that the 2014 elections had taken place under the same discriminatory framework as the ones held in 2010, in violation of the 2009 Sejdic and Finci judgment. It urged the authorities to adopt the necessary changes in both the Constitution and the election law, before the next general election in October 2018.

The adopted text also underlines the urgent need to implement the decision by the Constitutional Court on the composition of the Federation Houses of the People well ahead of the 2018 elections, failing which there was a serious risk that the formation of the government at both Federation and State level after the elections would be blocked.

The Assembly was very concerned with the increasing disrespect for the rule of law in Bosnia Herzegovina and urges the competent authorities to abide by decisions of the Constitutional Court and the State Court, which are final and binding. The Assembly regrets in particular the decision of Republika Srpska not to implement a decision of the State Court on the state-level registration of defence property located on its territory, the decision to hold a referendum on the Republika Srpska national day despite a ruling by the Constitutional Court banning it and the protracted delay by the State Parliament to implement the decision of the Constitutional Court on Mostar.

In Republika Srpska incumbent President Milorad Dodik, who had been in power since 2010 and served previously two terms as prime minister, appeared to be coasting to reelection. Frequently, he advocates that Republika Srpska should break away and declare itself an independent state, a move that would shatter the fragile multi-ethnic peace of the Balkans. Dodik has been playing the Russian card, seen as a traditional ally of Serbian nationalism, in his campaign, and Russian officials have been happy to lavish attention on him, determined to keep a foothold in the Balkans. In contrast, U.S. and European leaders and officials have been keeping a low-profile to avoid accusations of election meddling.

Opposition leader Branislav Borenovic, president of the Party of Democratic Progress, accused Dodik of trying to create an atmosphere that makes people scared. We are quite independent enough, he says. He says the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Serb-controlled mini-state desperately need a new generation of politicians far removed from the ethnic mindset of the past. The current political elites are afraid of talking about everyday issues... They are pushing very hard emotional nationalistic issues. We have had political elites controlling for the past 10, 15 years, he adds.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said 25 September 2018 he possessed "astonishing evidence" about the interference of Western powers in the upcoming elections in the Serb entity in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) - "because Serbia is a serious country, whose services are capable of coming up with such information." Serb Republic (RS) Prime Minister Zeljka Cvijanovic said Ivanic "never wanted to say that precisely the foreigners, from Western countries, and those meddling in BiH elections - they have their favorites and are pumping funds into supporting activities against the current authorities in the RS and into backing the opposition forces." By July 2019, nine months after its general elections, Bosnia had still not formed a government - mainly due to disagreement in the tripartite presidency over NATO membership. The country had been stuck at a crossroads since the world's largest military alliance invited Bosnia in 2010 to join its Membership Action Plan (MAP), which would put it on track to joining the alliance. Bosniak and Croat members say NATO membership would provide peace and stability in a country where, 25 years after the devastating war of the 1990s, tension continued to boil. But Serb members such as Milorad Dodik, the current chairman of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, remain staunchly against NATO membership.

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