October 2011 marks the 1 year anniversary of the 2010 parliamentary and presidential elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH); an anniversary that signifies the continuing failure to elect a government that would work together towards a multi-ethnic and democratic Bosnia. As we look back and reflect on what the 2010 election and its following political year have taught us, one begins to wonder: what went wrong?
In the 2010 election, representatives from the three ethnic majorities (Croat, Serb, and Bosniak) were selected for the tri-partite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a Presidency structure upheld by the controversial Dayton Peace Accords, which presently acts as a Constitutional document for the country. The representatives elected were Bakir Izetbegovic (Bosniak), Zeljko Komsic (Croat), and Nebojsa Radmanovic (Serb). Both Komsic and Radmanovic were incumbents.
The leading parties in the House of Representatives in the Federation of BiH were the Social Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina (SDP BiH) and Party of Democratic Action (SDA), while the leading party in Republika Srpska was unequivocally the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), the party of re-elected Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik.
When we look at the results of the elections, two observations can be made:
1- Republika Srpska continues to elect officials to its Presidency who are unwilling to work together with officials from either the Federation or the international community to recreate a multi-ethnic and unified Bosnia and Herzegovina, a formation that is arguably the only way to achieve peace and the beginnings of a successful bid for membership in the European Union.
2- The concept of a tri-partite Presidency of BiH is bound for failure, with the Presidents sharing power on a rotating basis every 8 months and only representing the 3 major ethnic majorities within the country instead of including very active and populous ethnic groups like the Jewish and Roma populations.
In order for a peaceful and united Bosnia to be possible, therefore, true diversity and unification must be possible through the government. Changes are very much necessary in the structure of not only the governments at the BiH state level, but also the process by which the governments are elected. Only then can movement toward a unified Bosnia, one that is prepared for integration into the EU, happen.