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News 12 Jan 18

Bosnian Politicians Start Campaigning for Autumn Election

Months before the campaign is due to start for autumn elections in Bosnia, Zeljko Komsic is already throwing his hat into the ring for a seat on Bosnia's state presidency.

Mladen Lakic
Photo: Pixabay/Tumisu

Politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina have already started announcing who will run for posts on the country's three-member presidency in elections not due until October.

They have done so despite the risk that the elections might be postponed, owing to problems with reform of the electoral process.

Zeljko Komsic, leader of Democratic Front, a leftist opposition party, has announced that he intends to run for the position of Croat member of the tripartite state presidency.

He held this position twice before after winning his seat in general elections in 2006 and 2014.

By skipping the general elections in 2010, Komsic meets the criteria set by Bosnian electoral law; it is not possible to hold a presidency position three times in a row.

Bosnia is due to hold a general election in autumn 2018 amid fears that, without a new election law, it may be impossible to form of the House of Peoples [upper chamber], either at state level, or in the country's Federation entity.

The formation of a government in the Federation entity is also in doubt.

Bosnian Croats want election laws amended to ensure that the numerically dominant Bosniaks in the Federation cannot elect Croat representatives.

However, this would involve dividing the whole of the Federation entity into ethnically-based electoral units, which most Bosniaks resist.

Nermin Niksic, president of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, main opposition party in Bosnia, welcomed Komsic’s announced candidacy. The SDP and DF have agreed mutual cooperation before and after the elections.

However, Marinko Cavara, vice president of Bosnia's main Croat party, the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia, HDZ BiH, on Friday said Komsic had been elected to his post by Bosniaks, not by Croats, which was exactly why the HDZ BiH demanded reform of the electoral law.

Other politicians said the chances of a breakthrough on reform to the law looked remote. In the mean time, Croatia's President, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, has been soliciting international help to resolve the situation. 

Milorad Dodik, President of Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska, and president also of its ruling Alliance of Independent Democrats, is seen as a likely candidate for the post of Serbian member of the tripartite Presidency.

“I will be the president of something, for sure,” Dodik assured a TV show in October 2017, although his party told BIRN that it could not confirm the names of its candidate yet.

“This is common practice among our politicians, to start talking about elections as soon as they can, even though country is facing bigger problems,” Zlatiborka Popov Momcinovic, a political analyst, told BIRN.

Popov Momcinovic explained that more such speculation will likely follow.

She accused politicians of wishing to avoid saying how little was done during this mandate, as well as pointing to the country's failure to address discrimination issues raised in the Sejdic Finci case.

“I believe the chances of agreement on this issue are small, as there are different views on the content of the proposition, so I do not believe compromise can be achieved,” Mladen Ivanic, the Serbian member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, told the media.


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