More than 7,250 candidates have put their names on the ballots for Bosnia’s weekend elections, the 14th election in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1996.
Some 3.3 million voters are eligible to vote, according to the Central Electoral Commission (CEC).
The CEC has approved 127 political entities, including 72 parties, 38 coalitions and 17 independent candidates to take part in the weekend elections.
Some 70,000 voters have registered to vote by post or in consulates abroad.
Nine political veterans are running for seats on Bosnia’s tripartite state presidency. Of these, three are running for the Bosniak post, two for the Croatian post and four for the Serbian post.
According to pundits, the weekend elections are taking place during Bosnia’s worst political crisis since the end of the war in 1995. This is in large part due to the separatist intentions of Bosnian Serb strongman Milorad Dodik.
Dodik’s support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine is in direct opposition to Bosniak and Croat support for the West, and has only deepened existing political divisions in the country.
Meanwhile, failed negotiations regarding changes to election law, an ongoing political grenade for more than a decade, have also contributed to divisions within the country.
The latest proposed changes to the law, supported by Croats and opposed by Bosniaks, have added a layer of tension to an otherwise lacklustre election campaign.
At the same time, an energy crisis, high inflation and rising prices are contributing to fears of a looming crisis.
Voters in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the larger of the two entities in the country, will elect the Bosniak and Croat members of the presidency. They are also set to choose members for the state-level House of Representatives, the House of Representatives in their Federation entity, and members of parliamentary assemblies in ten cantons.
Those in the Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska, will choose one of four candidates for the Serbian member of the Bosnian presidency. Voters in Republika Srpska will also cast votes for the entity president and vice-presidents, the state-level House of Representatives, as well as for members of the entity’s assembly.
The political order in post-war Bosnia is built exclusively on the ethnic principle. This means that those who belong to one of Bosnia’s several minorities, such as Roma, Jews, and any citizens who do not define themselves by any one ethnicity, cannot run for the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
For nationalist parties, this means that the ethnic principle is the key to gaining and retaining power. In practice, this has created ideal conditions for nepotism and corruption.
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