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Bosnia Herzegovina gears up for Oct. 2 elections

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Sep 26, 2022 - 08:58 PM

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) – Bosnia and Herzegovina will hold elections on Oct. 2 to choose members of cantons, entity and national parliaments, as well as the Presidential Council.

Some 3.3 million people are expected to vote for members of parliament in the country’s two entities — the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska — as well as 10 cantons within the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Also, voters will choose representatives of the Presidential Council and national parliament.

Bosnia Herzegovina’s political structure is often dubbed as one of the most complicated systems in the world.

A total of nine candidates will compete in the election for the Bosniak, Serb and Croat members of the Presidential Council.

This is the lowest number of candidates since 2002 when the 4-year mandate was implemented.

In 2002, a total of 35 candidates competed for council membership. This number decreased rapidly with each election.

3 candidates are Bosniak, 2 Croat and 4 Serb

The presidency in the Balkan nation rotates every eight months among three members (Bosniak, Serb, Croat).

While the Bosniak and Croat members are elected from a joint constituency in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Serb member is elected by voters in the Republika Srpska.

Three candidates will compete for the seat that is reserved for the Bosniak member of the Presidential Council.

The first candidate, Bakir Izetbegovic, is from the Democratic Action Party, the largest political party of Bosniaks. Denis Becirovic, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, is supported by the opposition bloc consisting of 11 political parties. Mirsad Hadzikadic, the candidate of the state coalition, was announced last year.

Meanwhile, two candidates will compete to become the Croat member of the council. The incumbent Croat member, Zeljko Komsic, is running for a second term with support of a coalition group. The second candidate is Borjana Kristo.

The Serb member of the council will be determined by voters registered in the Serb entity from among four candidates.

The candidate of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, headed by the incumbent Serb member of the council Milorad Dodik, announced Zeljka Cvijanovic as their candidate. The Serb Democratic Party chose Mirko Sarovic, the former minister of foreign trade and economic relations. Vojin Mijatovic is the candidate of the Social Democratic Party and Nenad Nesic of the Democratic People’s Alliance.

The Bosniak and Croat members of the Presidential Council are elected from the votes in the two entity parliaments.

Voters in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina will chose representatives of the entity and cantonal parliaments as well as the national legislature — Parliament of Bosnia Herzegovina.

Voters in the Republika Srpska will chose representatives of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Presidency, as well as the vice president of the Republika Srpska and members of the entity’s National Assembly.

Voting will be held across the 10 cantons of Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zenica-Doboj, Una-Sana, Central Bosnia, Herzegovina-Neretva, Bosnia-Podrinje, Western Herzegovina, On and Posavina.

90 political parties

A total of 90 political parties have fielded their candidates. Also 17 independent candidates are contesting.

According to the Bosnia and Herzegovina Election Commission, this year’s participation has been the highest since 2002.

Approximately 68,000 voters registered abroad will be able to cast their votes by mail or at the ballot boxes to be set up at the diplomatic representations.

The election campaigns will continue until the morning of Saturday, Oct. 1, after which the election ban kicks in.

Allegations of new election law

There were reports in Bosnia and Herzegovina that Christian Schmidt, the high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, would impose a new election law.

Local media in July reported that by Aug. 1, German politician Schmidt would impose measures for the re-functioning of Bosnia’s federation.

The alleged new law would determine how delegates are chosen from the House of Peoples of the Bosniak-Croat Federation entity’s parliament.

If the law would be put in action, the founding nations of Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs will lose representatives of their ethnic population if any federation canton is less than 3%.

Under the current election law, at least one Bosniak, one Croat and one Serb delegate are elected from each canton.

This would be the third time Schmidt uses the so-called “Bonn powers” after assuming office in August 2021.

The first time he did so was to annul a law on immovable property in Republika Srpska, a Serb-dominated entity.

The second time, Schmidt used his “Bonn powers” to finance the country’s general elections on Oct. 2, allocating €6.5 million (approximately $6.97 million) for the Central Election Commission.

The Office of the High Representative was established with the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia Herzegovina. The office oversees the implementation of the peace agreement in the country on behalf of the international community. The high representative also coordinates the activities of international institutions operating in the country.

The high representative has the authority to dismiss anyone who interferes with the implementation of peace in the country, including members of the Presidential Council, and to pass laws as necessary.

These powers are dubbed “Bonn powers.”

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