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The European Elections Monitor
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Presidential and General Elections

The nationalist forces record a decline in the presidential and general elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina

The nationalist forces record a decline in the presidential and general elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina

03/10/2006 - Results

On 1st October 2.7 million Bosnian voters were called to vote and elect the three members of the Collegial Presidency of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina (a Croat, a Serb and a Muslim) and the 42 MPs in their Chamber of Representatives, the lower Chamber of the Central Parliament (14 are elected in the Serb Republic and 28 in the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina)[1]. The inhabitants of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina also renewed the 98 members of their Chamber of Representatives and the 289 delegates of their ten cantonal assemblies; the inhabitants of the Serb Republic elected the 83 members of their National Assembly along with their President and their Vice-Presidents.

The leader of the Party for Bosnia-Herzegovina (SB-H), former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Haris Silajdzic, won his bet by taking the Collegial Presidency of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina with 62.10% of the vote within the Muslim college. Haris Silajdzic, who resigned in September 2001 from his position as leader of the SB-H, was re-elected to this post on last 20th May to safeguard the integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina and to fight against the idea of dividing the country. During his campaign he was backed by supporters of the Social Democrat Party (SDP) which had not put a candidate forward; he also enjoyed the support of the Muslim authorities, notably that of the religious leader Mustafa Ceric, head of the country's Muslim community, an opponent of Sulejman Tihic (Democratic Action Party, SDA), the outgoing President of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Haris Silajdzic's main adversary in this election. "I shall do everything I can to improve the living conditions of our citizens," declared the new President on the announcement of his election.

Nebojsa Radmanovic (Independent Social Democrat Party, SNSD) was elected for the Serb college with 54.8% of the vote whilst Zeljko Komsic (Social Democrat Party SDP) won the election within the Croat college with 40.8% of the vote slightly ahead of Ivo Miro Jovic (Croat Democratic Community HDZ 1990). "I hope that we shall be more intelligent than our predecessors," declared Zeljko Komsic when the results were announced. However Miso Relota, spokesman of the Croat Democratic Community (BZH-BH) qualified this result as a "tragedy for the Croats of Bosnia-Herzegovina".

Haris Silajdzic, Zeljko Komsic and Nebojsa Radmanovic are therefore the three new members of the Collegial Presidency of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The first two are supporters of a unified Bosnia-Herzegovina whilst Nebojsa Radmanovic's party is in favour of a referendum on the secession of the Serb territories.

The participation rate rose to 53%, slightly lower than the rate recorded in the last election on 5th October 2002 (- 1.98 points).

In the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina the Democratic Action Party won the general elections with 21.7% of the vote but alone it is unable to form a majority.

In the Serb Republic the Independent Social Democrat Party (SNSD), Prime Minister Milorad Dodik's party came out ahead of the traditional nationalist forces, the Democratic Party (SDS) led by the outgoing President of the Serb Republic, Dragan Cavic, and the Radical Party (SRS). The SNSD leader who for a long time was considered a "moderate" did however campaign brandishing the threat of the organisation of a referendum on the independence of the Serb Republic.

Milan Jelic (SNSD) won the presidential election of the Serb entity and the SNSD won the elections in the National Assembly, the only Chamber in the Serb Parliament, winning more than 40% of the vote. This party also won the elections in the Chamber of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Central Parliament of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

After the presidential and general elections Milorad Dodik has seen his role within the Serb entity and within the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina strengthened. "We believe that the Serb Republic is a permanent entity and we intend to promote this choice," the Prime Minister declared in the capital of the Serb part Bosnia-Herzegovina, Banja Luka when the results were announced.

These presidential and general elections were of utmost importance for Bosnia-Herzegovina in the wake of the decision on 22nd and 23rd June by the Council for the application of the Dayton Agreements to bring the function of High Representative of the International Community to an end by 3rd June 2007. From this date on the Bosnians will govern their country without international supervision. The High Representative, a position occupied by Christian Schwarz-Schilling since 14th December2005, has the power to punish and dismiss MPs and to impose laws on the government. "The international community should stay in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I hope that after the High Representative has left he will be replaced by a strong mission from the European Union," declared Haris Silajdzic as he placed his voting slip in the urn.

Although the electoral campaign was marked by strong nationalist rhetoric with all of the most "moderate" parties calling unhesitatingly on ethnic ideas, the nationalist parties, i.e. the Democratic Action Party, the Serb Democratic Party led by outgoing President of the Serb Republic Dragan Cavic and the Croat Democratic Community of Bosnia-Herzegovina did however suffer a slight decline during these elections. These parties were beaten by more recently created and supposedly more moderate parties.

The next few months will witness a battle between Haris Silajdzic and Milorad Dodik on their vision of the country's future. The leader of the Party for Bosnia-Herzegovina is campaigning for a unified Bosnia-Herzegovina whilst the leader of the Social Democrats rejects the idea of a federation bringing together the two States. In these circumstances it will certainly be difficult for the country to strengthen its central institutions and to undertake the reforms which are vital if it is to come closer to the EU. Bosnia-Herzegovina is negotiating a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Commission, the first stage on the long road to a potential accession to the EU.

"These results provide a clear image of the radicalisation of the political situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. If the international community decides to close the office of its High Representative these results will lead us into an extremely unstable, dangerous period for peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina," believes political analyst Senad Pecanin. However another political analyst Emir Habul believes that "some things lead to the hope that politicians will become more flexible in their positions if the moderate parties really control the country's main institutions". Analyst Tanja Topic prefers to wait before forming an opinion: "We shall soon know whether the speeches were just electoral rhetoric or whether they were the (winning) parties' real objectives," she maintained.
Publishing Director: Pascale JOANNIN
The authors
Corinne Deloy
Author of the European Elections Monitor (EEM) for the Robert Schuman Foundation and project manager at the Institute for Political Studies (Sciences Po).
Fondation Robert Schuman
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