05 Oct, 2022

Bosnia and Herzegovina elects new leaders as High Representative imposes election reform

Voters in Bosnia and Herzegovina went to the polls on Sunday but in a surprise move, minutes after the polls closed, it was the High Representative Christian Schmidt who made the headlines by using his executive so-called “Bonn-powers” to impose changes to the country’s election law.

Citizens who took part in the vote were electing five different institutions: the three-person Presidency of the country, the state parliament in the capital Sarajevo, the lower houses of the two entity assemblies, the President of the Serb Republic, and the regional assemblies within the Federation.

Numerous failed attempts had been made prior to the election to reform the electoral law, but as soon as voting closed at 19.00, the High Representative issued a letter announcing his changes. "To the voters, to you, I want to say that, while you were at the polls and voted, I made decisions to ensure that your vote counted and that your democratic will was respected. You have shown your responsibility by voting democratically. Now, your voting will must be respected," he said.

The changes include: the number of representatives in the Federation entity’s House of Peoples has been raised as well as the way in which they are chosen, the deadline for the formation of the government after the election shortened, and additional measures introduced seeking to ensure the functionality of the Bosniak and Croat-dominated Federation entity.

The Office of the High Representative was established with the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia Herzegovina. The office oversees the implementation of the peace agreement on behalf of the international community.

ALDE Party member party Naša stranka conducted a vibrant and positive campaign in which they advocated for reforms to take the country towards EU membership status, simplifying bureaucracy, prioritising education, and tackling corruption.

Counting is still underway across the country, and at the time of writing according to the latest data published on the website of the Central Electoral Commission, nine parties – including Naša stranka - in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina exceeded the electoral threshold of 3%, with 83.21% of ballots processed.

Of the results known, the three members of the Presidency have been elected: the Social Democratic Party candidate Denis Bećirović secured the Bosniak seat, Zeljko Komsic won re-election to the Croat seat, and Alliance of Independent Social Democrats candidate Zeljka Cvijanovic took the Serbian seat. Naša stranka party leader Edin Forto congratulated Denis Bećirović for winning election to the Presidency, since the party joined with others in supporting his candidacy.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's political structure is often regarded as one of the most complicated in the world.

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