The general elections held on October 2, 2022 in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), was realized under the shadow of the discussions of Electoral Law. Therefore, looking at the results of the elections held twitchily, it is seen that there are some changes in the BiH Presidential Council, including the Bosniak, Serbian, and Croatian members. As a matter of fact, according to the results shared by BiH Electoral Commission, Bosniak member of Social Democrat Party Denis Becirovic, is in the first place with 57,2% votes, President of Party of Democratic Action (SDA) Bakir İzetbegovic is in the second place with 37,59%. Within Croatian candidates, Zeljko Komsic was in the first place with 54,21%, his opponent Borjana Kristo is in the second place with 45,79%. Within Serbian candidates, under the leadership of Milorad Dodik, Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) candidate Zeljka Cvijanovic got 52,67%of the votes and helds the first place; his opponent Mirko Sarovic had 35,90% of the votes.
Central Election Commission has declared that voter turnout is 50%. Therefore, has become Denis Becirovic Bosniak member, Zeljko Komsic has become Croatian member and Zeljka Cvijanovic has become Serbian member of Presidential Council
When the result of the election is analyzed, it is observed that the Bosniak, the Croatian and the Serbian supports the opposition, which means that the public demand a change in the country. Economic crisis deepening due to the Russian-Ukrainian War escalated this. The public, demanded change while facing this challenging period.
Competing for the Bosniak membership of the Presidential Council, Becirovic won the election with a margin of 7%. The support of Becirovic by the eleven opposition parties as a bloc was the decisive factor in the victory of the SDP. As a matter of fact, SDA candidate Izetbegovic pointed to this situation and said, “It was difficult for us to be successful against the alliance of eleven parties. SDA has increased its votes over the last two elections. SDA is still the strongest party in BiH.”
In the country where the Bosniak and Serbian members of the Presidency Council have been changed and the Croatian member has been re-elected, it is wondered what kind of policy the relevant members will follow in the fragile political structure of the country. In his post-election statement, Becirovic stated that BiH will continue to be determined in the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership processes. Komsic expressed his satisfaction with the results and pointed out that some changes will occur in the political scene of BiH. It is stated that Komsic defends the interests of Bosnians in the country and therefore received votes from some Bosniak voters. Considering this issue, it can be predicted that he will act with a policy understanding that defends the interests of the country.
On the other hand, as it will be remembered, the policy adopted by the former Serbian member Dodik caused the political crisis in BiH to deepen. Therefore, it is a matter of debate whether the new Serbian member of the Presidential Council, Cvijanovic, will pursue a different policy. However, it is not expected that Cvijanovic will behave much differently from Dodik, who is in the same party. As a matter of fact, in his statement after his election victory, Cvijanovic said that he would defend the interests of Republika Srpska. Therefore, Cvijanovic is a person who has internalized the views of SNSD led by Dodik. Cvijanovic’s continuation of Dodik’s separatist policies may increase instability in the country. Of course, Cvijanovic’s relations with Serbia and Russia will also play a critical role in this regard.
What Does the Amendment to the Election Law Mean as the Vote Count Continues?
As it is known, while the vote counting process continues right after the closing of the ballot boxes in BiH; High Representative Christian Schmidt, making a significant move in terms of timing, announced that he changed the Election Law, which has been the subject of controversy since March 2022. Based on his Bonn authorities, Schmidt enacted the election law amendments on which the Bosnian politicians could not agree, by “imposing.” Schmidt emphasized that the change was made in order to “reflect the will of the voters to the administration and to ensure that the country is not paralyzed by the blockade policies.” In this change, it is indicated that functionalisty of administration of entity in the Federation of BiH (FBiH), and previous blockages on establishing a government will be prevented.
With the amendment made in the Electoral Law; the number of delegates of the founding peoples (Bosniak, Croat, Serb) in the FBiH People’s Assembly will be increased from 17 to 23, and the number of seats from 58 to 80. This will increase the representation of regions mostly populated by Croats in the ten cantons of FBiH. It is claimed that this decision is in favor of the nationalist Croatian party, the Croatian Democratic Union, that it will pave the way for the strengthening of the right to representation, and that Croats can have a say in many issues in the future.
The change in the Electoral Law mostly pleased Croatia. Because, Prime Minister of Croatia Anderj Plenkovic, has confessed that he met “secretly” with High Representative Schmidt “for months.” After the change of law, Plenkovic indicated that the Croatians’ political representation in Bosnia is under a guarantee.
On the other hand, President of Croatia Zoran Milanovic criticized Schmidt’s decision and said, “Croatia has been given a life sentence and unfortunately we celebrate it. This decision is disastrous for Zagreb’s foreign policy. It is hostile behavior.” he said. Therefore, developments in BiH have deepened the conflict between the Prime Minister and the President in Croatia.
As a result, with the declaration of the election results in BiH, a new and challenging process has become. Change in the electoral law for the favor of the Croatians may escalate the political crisis in the country. Although it is said that this change was made to facilitate the establishment of the government and to maintain political stability, it is possible that the crisis would escalate. That’s why, with a change in favor to HDZ could increase the influence of Croatia in the country.
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