After debating for hours, a bloc of the strongest centre-left parties in the country, the ‘BH Bloc’, announced it would rather remain opposition than enter into a governing coalition with any nationalist parties, including the main Bosniak one.
The BH Bloc consists of the Democratic Front (DF), the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Nasa Stranka (Our Party, NS).
The three main nationalist parties in Bosnia once again received last October most of the votes at the state level election, but also at the level of the country’s two semi-autonomous entities, the Federation (FBiH) and Republika Srpska (RS).
Those parties are, for the Serbs - the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), for the Croats - the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ), and for the Bosniaks - the Party for Democratic Action (SDA).
The BH Bloc won a significant number of seats at the state and FBiH entity levels which made the parties within it an attractive option for the ethnic-oriented parties to try and form an alliance with. After the election, SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic said he hoped the parties could be part of the governing coalition.
But on Tuesday, the bloc said no to the idea.
SDP leader Nermin Niksic was the first to tell reporters about the decision at a press conference.
“We've put all of our arguments on the table, the key of the dialogue was the undivided opinion on the future of Bosnia’s political scene, and we will do everything to maintain unity within the BH Bloc and within its parties,” he said, adding, that the parties “reached a decision to stay the opposition at the FBiH and the state levels as BH Bloc.”
According to DF leader Zeljko Komsic, the decision was made in order to keep the bloc united.
“In the name of maintaining the BH Bloc, the stance of the DF is that we will be the opposition, there is no mixing - either we are the opposition or in power,” he said.
According to the leader of NS, Predrag Kojovic, the date represents a historic moment.
“It is a very important date in Bosnia, history is sometimes made by saying - no. We said ‘no’ to national parties, we want to build a new Bosnia and Herzegovina for all those who are not nationalists and who think that this state can survive as a multi-ethnic one which is set up according to European standards,” he said.
But political analyst Srecko Latal told N1 on Tuesday that he would like to see those parties fight for a multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina in other parts of the country, and not only those where Bosniaks are the majority.
As opposed to Croats and Serbs, Bosniaks, as the most numerous ethnic group, are advocating for a one person - one vote system to be set up in the country. This principle goes hand in hand with what the BH Bloc parties said they want.
“As a potential voter for this political option, I would like them to truly start fighting for a multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina, but not in Sarajevo, not in Bosniak cantons or municipalities, but in Banja Luka, Livno, Sujica, or Kakanj,” Latal said.
He still welcomed the decision, saying it was critical because of the “good atmosphere” at the joint conference where it was revealed.
“I was surprised by the nice atmosphere, with a lot of laughter and joy in a situation when our country is facing disintegration, when half of the country is flooded, when a quarter of the country is seeking visas to leave for Germany, Slovenia, and so on,” he said.