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European Court of Human Rights to declare entity-based electoral system of BiH discriminatory, media report

European Court of Human Rights; Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CherryX

SARAJEVO – European Court of Human Rights will decide on the case Kovačević v. Bosnia and Herzegovina on 29 August. According to Istraga.ba, it will declare that the members of the Presidency of BiH and the members of the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH should be elected in a single, state-level constituency, and not on the entity level.

Currently, two members of the Presidency are elected in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and one member is elected in Republika Srpska, two entities of the state. House of Peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina has 15 members, appointed by the parliaments of the two entities.

In his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, Slaven Kovačević, political scientist and an advisor to Željko Komšić, member of Presidency of BiH, stated that, because of a combination of the territorial and ethnic requirements applicable to the House of Peoples, he was unable to vote for the candidates of his choice in the 2022 legislative elections. Similarly, he was unable to vote for the candidates of his choice in the 2022 presidential elections.

As a Sarajevo-based citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kovačević cannot, for instance, vote for the Serb member of the Presidency (who is elected in Republika Srpska).

According to Istraga.ba, the Court decided that the current political system of BiH has made ethnic representation more important than political, economic-social and other issues, and has strengthened ethnic divisions in the state and undermined the democratic character of elections, and that “constituent nations are privileged”.

It also proposed to either reduce the competences of the House of Peoples or to enable all citizens to participate in its work.

Reacting to the media reports on the upcoming Court decision, Nermin Nikšić, leader of the Social Democratic Party, stated that it confirmed that the future of European Bosnia and Herzegovina is a future of civic Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He added that the experience shows that the decision will not be automatically implemented, but that it lays the groundwork for the road ahead, Klix.ba reports.

Meanwhile, Milan Miličević, leader of the Serb Democratic Party, stated that he believed there would be no two-thirds majority in Republika Srpska to give up on a member of the Presidency and five members of the House of Peoples elected in this entity, Nezavisne reports.

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