European Western Balkans

Bosnian citizens elect leaders in the Presidency, Schmidt imposed new election rules

Sarajevo; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

SARAJEVO – According to preliminary election results, the future three members of the Bosnian Presidency will be Denis Bećirović, Željka Cvijanović, and Željko Komšić. The results of the presidential election in Republika Srpska are still uncertain. The two candidates with the most votes, Milorad Dodik from SNSD and opposition leader Jelena Trivić from PDP, declared victory on Sunday night. According to the latest result of the Central Election Commission (CIK) Dodik has a slight advantage. 

Bosniak member Denis Bećirović and Serbian member Željka Cvijanović will be a part of the tripartite Presidency for the first time. Bećirović, a candidate of the united opposition won more votes in the Federation than the long-time leader of the Bosniaks, Bakir Izetbegović, who said after the victory that it was not time for “triumphalism and euphoria” and called for the unification of all people in Bosnia and Hercegovine. 

Željka Cvijanović on behalf of Milorad Dodik’s SNSD stated that she would work in the interest of Republika Srpska. “I was elected on the territory of the RS, and as a member of the BiH Presidency, I will defend the interests of the RS, act in line with the Constitution”, said Cvijanović on Sunday, Radio Free Europea (RFE) reported. 

She did not exclude the possibility of using the veto in order to defend “the national interests” of RS, which Milorad Dodik, the previous Serbian member of the Presidency, used on several occasions during his mandate.

Who will be the Croatian representative, CIK announced on Monday. It will continue to be Željko Komšić, the candidate of the Democratic Front who was the Croatian member of the Presidency for the previous four years. In the elections, he had more votes than the candidate of the Bosnian HDZ, Bojana Krišto.

Schmidt imposed new election rules

On Sunday a few minutes after the polling stations were closed, the High Representative in BiH Christian Schmidt signed the decision, based on Bonn’s powers, to change the ways of the post-elections constitution. The essence of the changes refers to the deadlines for forming authorities in the Federation of BiH. 

Schmidt explained that he imposed this decision to improve the functionality of the institutions and enable the citizens’ voices to be heard. He added that the changes would not affect the votes cast by citizens in the elections held on Sunday. 

“These are your choices. They do not refer to the held elections, but post-election negotiations on party coalitions”, said OHR Christian Schmidt. 

According to this decision, the number of delegates in the House of Peoples of the Federation has also increased. The constituent peoples, Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, will have 23 instead of 18. Also, each constitutional people will elect at least one representative in each canton for the House of Peoples. 

Formally, the reason why Schmidt made this decision is to prevent a repeat of the practice of Croatian politicians blocking the formation of a new government, and demanding changes to the Election Law, for which negotiations between Bosniak and Croat parties have failed on several occasions.

The office of the High Representative announced on Sunday evening that this new distribution “corrects the most pronounced overrepresentation of each of the three constituent nations in the cantons where a small number of members of each of the three nations live.”

On Monday, the EU Delegation in BiH distanced itself from Christian Schmidt’s decision with the message that they “deeply regret” because the issue of electoral reform was not resolved in the dialogue between political parties.

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