Local elections were finally held in Mostar on 20 December 2020, 12 years since they were last held in the city, with ALDE party member Naša Stranka winning mandates and entering the local council.
Irma Baralija, a local teacher in the city and also Vice-President of Naša Stranka fought for many years for her right to vote and to run in a municipal election and successfully took her case to the European Court of Human Rights. In 2018, the ECHR ruled that the country must amend its election law to allow local elections to take place.
Earlier this year in July, an agreement signed between the two largest ethnic parties allowed local elections to be held on 20 December with the three Croat-majority constituencies on one side of the river electing 13 councillors and the three Bosniak constituencies on the other side electing nine councillors, and the remaining 13 of the 35 city councillors to be elected by all in the city.
Naša Stranka ran in coalition with SDP as part of the BiH Bloc and Mrs Baralija was convincingly elected in the old town constituency where she received 76.21% of the list’s preferential votes in the and won the most votes among all the candidates from the six constituency lists. Naša Stranka member Boska Ćavar was also elected to the Council, confirming Naša Strankaas a parliamentary party in Herzegovina for the first time.
Reacting to the results, Naša Stranka leader Predrag Kojović said: “Great changes await this country. I understand that this is not the end of nationalism and nationalists, and I am convinced that this is the beginning of the end.”
Ovu zemlju čekaju velike promjene. Shvatam da ovo nije kraj nacionalizma i nacionalista, ai sam uvjeren da jeste početak kraja. https://t.co/FAN7Z6xaYy— Pedja Kojovic (@PedjaKojovic) December 20, 2020
Mrs Baralija wrote: "Dear friends, family members, neighbours, schoolmates, fellow citizens from the area of Stari Grad, thank you to all of you who decided yesterday that I am the person who wants to represent you in the Council for the next four years. Thank you for the trust that you pointed out to the BiH bloc and to me personally, we will do everything we can to justify that trust.”
The city’s council has been dormant since the terms of councillors expired in 2012 with no election has been able to take place since then due to disagreements between the political parties as to how to conduct the election in a city that has long been divided along ethnic lines.
Political parties, coalitions, and independent candidates participating in the 2020 local elections in the City of Mostar signed an election pledge on 18 November 2020, promising to ensure a peaceful and fair electoral process.
Holding these local elections were one of the 14 key priorities of the European Commission’s latest opinion on the EU membership application of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and represents an important step forward for the country on its EU integration path.
Photo credit: Naša Stranka