Ethnic discrimination still an issue in Bosnian politics

Local watchdog organizations denounce numerous electoral irregularities in past Bosnian elections, but the ethnic-based political system itself precludes a fair election.

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
Ethnic discrimination still an issue in Bosnian politics - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

There is not much point to voting in Bosnia.

First, the country's overly complex power-sharing system gives politicians numerous tools to block legislative proposals that threaten their positions and their parties' interests. 

Second, a sizeable pool of potentially competent candidates cannot participate in politics because of their ethnic backgrounds. 

The latter issue results from the Dayton Peace Accord, which specifies that only Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs are eligible in some governing bodies.

Members of ethnic minorities -- Roma, Jews, and others -- cannot run for and be elected to the House of Peoples or the Presidency.

In 2009, the Sejdić-Finci case ended with the European Court of Human Rights ordering Bosnia to remove barriers for political participation of national minorities. But nine years later, Dervo Sejdić and Jakov Finci still cannot run for office. 

In the upcoming elections, NGOs and voters will hope for change through advocacy and new candidates. But as long as the discriminatory constitution and electoral system are kept in place because of ethnic interests, there's no hope for substantial change. 

politics, race, human rights

Details from the story:

  • An analysis of election irregularities in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 2006 and 2016 indicates that polling boards are one of its weakest elements, since its members are often affiliated with political parties.
  • According to this study, more than 1,000 objections were sent regarding the appointments of polling board members. Out of 143 municipal or city election commissions, 90 of them did not submit the requested information in answer to these objections.
  • The "Pod Lupom" coalition suggests that each polling station scan the ballots and use transparent ballot boxes. The coalition was created by six civil society associations from different parts of the country. 
  • General elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina should take place in October this year. The call for elections is expected in early May. 
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