Bosnian leaders seek temporary Election Law solution

NEWS 05.06.2018 12:42
Source: N1

After negotiations about the Election Law changes have failed, Bosnian leaders are seeking a temporary solution that would allow the implementation of the results of the upcoming election and divert a political crisis.

Talks about the changes to Bosnia’s Election Law have been going on for two years.

Bosnia is divided into two entities – one dominated by Serbs, the other shared by Bosniaks and Croats. The country has a power-sharing system in which three nations are supposed to share it equally but in reality, in the entity shared by Bosniaks and Croats, Bosniaks can elect a Croat representative because of they are numerically superior.

The main Bosnian’ Croat party, the Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ) views such elected officials as illegitimate.

In December 2016, the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) ruled partially in favour of a complaint lodged by former HDZ politician, Bozo Ljubic.

He argued that the Croat influence in cantons with a majority Bosniak population was unfairly diminished in the selection of delegates. Therefore Croat candidates should be elected only out of majority Croat cantons, thereby ensuring that only Croats vote for Croat delegates.

In effect, Ljubic asked the Court to forbid the Croats from areas dominated by Bosniaks, such as Sarajevo, Tuzla and Bihać from becoming members of the House of Peoples of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This is vehemently opposed by Bosniaks and the negotiations are stuck because nobody was willing to move an inch from their prior position.

After Tuesday’s meeting, the political leaders in Bosnia's Federation (FBiH), the semi-autonomous entity shared by Bosniaks and Croats, did not reveal too many details.

The meetings with the Venice Commission experts represent the latest attempt to find a solution.

The experts arrived in Bosnia last month and held a series of meetings in an attempt to assist Bosnia's politicians and authorities in finding an agreement. During the three-day visit, the foreign experts heard the opposing positions of Bosnia’s politicians on the matter and announced they would return to Bosnia in June to discuss the issue with the party leaders.

“For the election on each government level, we insist on legitimate representation. If a temporary solution is adopted, it still needs to include legitimate representation,” Borjana Kristo, from the HDZ, said after the Tuesday meeting.

“We will make an effort for our solutions to be in accordance with the Constitution, European Conventions on Human Rights and the decision of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in regard to representation of constituent peoples,” she said.

According to Nermin Niksic, the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the participants only „agreed to be optimistic”.

„Everyone is posing their arguments which we could hear before,” he said.

The leader of the Party for Democratic Action (SDA) and member of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, said there would be a temporary solution which will be implemented in the FBiH Parliament.

“I think that today we took a large step toward a solution and that it will be a temporary, one-time solution for this election, which will only concern the FBiH House of Peoples. With the help from friends from the international community, we think that today we made a step forward and I hope we will on Thursday define what that is,” he said.

The leader of the Union for a Better Future (SBB), Fahrudin Radoncic, would not reveal details from the meeting.

„Today's meeting was serious and a large step forward, the concept shouldn't be damaged by going into detail,” he said, adding that he thinks “we are the closest to finding a solution ever”.

The talks are to continue on Thursday.