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    Local Elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina

    Milorad Dodik, the president of the Republika Srpska, prevailed again: Just after he was able to achieve victory in a controversial referendum concerning a Serbian holiday, he and his party SNSD won 33 city mayor seats in the council elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) on 2 October 2016. Dodik emphasized after the referendum that he had received congratulations from the Serbian Prime MinisterAleksandar Vučić and “from Moscow”. On Tuesday, October 4th, it was clear that the municipality Srebrenica will also get a Bosnian-Serbian mayor. During the Bosnian war in the 1990s, over 8000 Bosniak (Muslim) inhabitants of Srebrenica were killed by Serbian militias. Bosnian Serb Mladen Grujičić will now assume office as major of Srebrenica and will succeed former major Ćamil Duraković, a Bosnian Muslim. Grujičić will be the first Bosnian Serb acting as a major of this community, his predecessors were all Bosnian Muslims.

    Milorad Dodik and his party were also able to win in the second biggest city of BiH Banja Luka. Furthermore, they also triumphed in 11 other municipalities, which were governed by the opposition party SDS before. However, Dodik´s SNSD party was not the only party which won in this election. The left-wing party Naša Stranka (“Our party”) was also able to chalk up a victory and was able to place 2ndin the two election districts Zentrum and Novo Sarajevo (after the Muslim national party SDA). In the Baščaršija district of Sarajevo, they even placed 1st. The results of the local election were a decent victory for this young party. The left-wing party, which opposes nationalism, will also be represented in other local councils in the Bosniak-Croat federation of the country. The social democrats SDP were also satisfied with the results of the local elections: After a division within the party and a severe election defeat, they were able to recover and gained victory in the city of Tuzla, the 3rd biggest city of Bosnia-Herzegovina. They also won in nine additional cities.
    Some independent nominees also had a reason to celebrate the results of the elections, they had emphasized their opposition to the corruption of the established older parties on their election platforms.

    The controversial referendum which was initiated by Dodik also helped some decidedly Bosniak (Muslim) parties, which because of the polarization between the different ethnic groups received more votes. Bakir Izetbegović, the head of the biggest Bosniak-Muslim party SDA, had previously brought in a charge against this holiday. His party cooperated with the party of oligarch Fahrudin Radončić and they were able to win some inner city districts of Sarajevo. The results of the election can be seen as an indication that the number of liberal thinking Bosnians who oppose ethnonationalism is shrinking. Many of those people have left Bosnia-Herzegovina in recent years. Izetbegović underlined the victory in Sarajevo, stressing that “the victory in the center of Sarajevo is more important than in ten other municipalities”. He probably also made this emphasis because his party had lost in some other communities. His party is still dominating in Sarajevo and 33 other constituencies, but they lost 12 of their former strongholds. The Croatian HDZ party, a branch of the conservative party in Croatia, won in the predominantly Croat regions of the country.
    There were also reports from massive electoral fraud: Opposition members reported “bought votes”. Votes were apparently bought for amounts of about 25-200 Euro. In addition, votes were also seemingly bought in exchange for food and debt cancellations (for example for electricity or coal). Citizens lend their ID card, while someone else voted for them. However, these allegations are not proved yet.
    In the city of Mostar, the capital of the Herzegovina region, the elections was not be held at all. Over 90.000 people were thus not allowed to vote. The hostile ethnic groups were not able to reach a consensus. The president of the electoral commission Ahmet Santic and the President Dragan Kovic were also not able to participate and vote, both of them are from Mostar.

    According to official information, voter turnout was about 54 per cent (about 50 per cent turnout in the Bosniak-Croat Federation and about 60 per cent turnout in the Republika Srpska).

    In summary, it can be concluded that nationalism is rising in Bosnia-Herzegovina. These developments are damaging the central state. Tensions between the different ethnic groups
    are still noticeable. Lately, those tensioned have further tightened.

    Die Presse, 05.10.2016 (Online)
    Der Standard, 03.10.2016 (Online)
    ORF, 02.10.2016 (Online)
    Salzburger Nachrichten, 02.10.2016 (Online)

    Category: Uncategorized
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