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news 02 Mar 15

Collapse of Bosnia’s Ruling Coalition Deepens Crisis

Talks about the formation of the new government in the Bosniak-Croat Federation hit a dead-end, threatening a previous agreement on the distribution of seats in the state administration.

Srecko Latal

Bosnia’s ruling coalition has effectively collapsed after the three main parties in the Federation failed to agree on the makeup of the entity's new government on Sunday. 

This development puts in question the recent agreement on the formation of the new state government, and threatens to push the country deeper into political chaos five months after the elections. 

Talks were held in Sarajevo on Sunday aimed at finding an agreement on how to distribute eight Bosniak, five Croat and three Serb ministerial positions in the new Federation government. 

Zeljko Komsic, from the predominately Bosniak party of Democratic Front, DF, walked out of the meeting after only half an hour, leaving his two other counterparts, Bakir Izetbegovic from the Bosnian national Party of Democratic Action, and Dragan Covic from the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ. 

Komsic told journalists that the negotiations had failed and that the DF will not be a part of the new Federation government, but that his party was willing to support the reform programmes of a minority government in order to avoid further political crisis.

"The Democratic Front will have no ministers in the new Federation government," Komsic confirmed.

“They have our support to form the government [without the DF] and how will they agree further on, I do not know," he added.

Later on Sunday, another senior DF leader, Sifet Podzic warned that the party was also ready to abandon its positions in the state government, the Council of Ministers.

At a previous meeting, Covic insisted on all five Croat and one Serb positions, Komsic doubled his initial request from three to six ministerial positions, while Izetbegovic, who previously wanted all eight Bosniak seats, offered one of those positions to the DF but this still proved insufficient for an agreement. 

After Komsic walked out, the other two party leaders continued their meeting for more than an hour. Afterwards they told media that they will consult with other senior members of their respective parties on Monday and then reconvene on Tuesday to discuss how to move on.

Talking to journalists after the meeting, Izetbegovic did not hide his dismay. He said he thought that he and Komsic had agreed on a compromise at their informal meeting the day before, but when he proposed this, Komsic rejected it and left.

Failure to agree on the new Federation government also jeopardizes the recent agreement on the state government. Covic has repeatedly stressed that the two governments must be formed in parallel and that without an agreement in the Federation, the state-level government will not get approved.

The SDA and HDZ now have couple of days to hope for Kosmic to change his mind, or ponder two of the equally bad remaining options.

They could proceed and establish a minority government, but it would probably be dysfunctional and unstable as it would depend on other parties’ whims. The other option would mean completely overhauling the ruling coalition on both the state and Federation level, which would cause new tensions and delays.

Further delays would leave the Federation without financing and could end up with the new Federation President, Marinko Cavara from HDZ, dismissing the Federation parliament and calling for early elections at that administrative level.

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