Capital Sarajevo
Time Zone CET (GMT+1)
Country Code 387
Mobile Codes 61,62,63
ccTLD .ba
Currency Bosnian Convertible Mark (1EUR = 1,96 BAM)
Land Area 51,129 sq km
Population 4 million
Language Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian
Major Religion Islam, Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity

Bosnia: One Year without a Government

By Lana Pasic

On the 3rd of October 2010, general elections were held in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Considering that BiH has three presidents- one from each of the main ethnic groups (Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats), this means that the distribution of ministerial posts requires negotiations and agreement among these opposing parties.

Nevertheless, from around 3 million voters registered for the elections, only 56% decided to choose their representatives, according to the Central Electoral Commission of BiH. The elections did not change the situation in the Republika Srpska, where the ruling Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) still won the majority of seats.

However, in the other entity, the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Party of Social Democrats (SDP) is now considered to have been the chief winner of the elections, which means certain changes in the dynamic of the political negotiations within the entity itself, and on the state level too.

One year later, the seats allocated to the political parties, entities and ethnic groups in the Council of Ministers still have not been agreed upon. Further, the new Parliament was not constituted until June 2011- eight months after the elections, and just in time for summer break, ensuring that no work would be done.

This means that all the state-level decisions, except for the ones involving the institution of the presidency, have been blocked. Those in power since the previous elections are waiting to find out what their destiny will be after the new government is constituted. Thus, they tend to wait and do nothing, while receiving salaries that are the highest in the region, for jobs which they are (not) doing. What does this mean for the country’s economic development, social policies and international interactions?

In the first 100 days after the elections, the Bosnian parliament did not adopt a single law related to European integration, in spite of all the political leaders’ insistence that Bosnia has no future outside of the Union, reported Radio Slobodna Evropa. The non-formation of the government also meant that the IPA (Instruments of Pre-Accession Assistance) funds to Bosnia & Herzegovina were placed in jeopardy.

This was mainly due to the lack of agreement between the two entities and the projects which the state should implement. Only after the EU’s threat that 96 million euros would be re-distributed to the other countries in the region, and that Bosnia will get nothing unless its leaders agree, did the entities approve the list of projects.

Very recently, on the 26th of September, representatives of six main political parties met in an attempt to agree on the formation of a new Council of Ministers. All emphasized their willingness to negotiate and to go that extra mile for the issue to be resolved; however, in spite of that, Bosnia is still without a government.

Furthermore, the parties noted that the deals that were on the table before were no longer valid. This means that the negotiations regarding the distribution of seats should start from scratch. The date for the new session of negotiations has not yet been set.

Today marks one year of the total lack of accountability by the elected parties towards the citizens of Bosnia & Herzegovina. It also would seem to mark the absence of any willingness to work in the interest of their voters, and the interest of the country as a whole.

In the meantime, Bosnians of all ethnic groups continue to wait for stability, feasible development plans and socio-economic policies… and maybe, one day, for a functioning government.

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