Bosnia and Herzegovina holds its seventh general elections on 12 October. Since the end of the war, political allegiance has been usually based on ethnic identity. Ethnic politics will play its role in Sunday’s elections too, but there are other issues too. The debate, following protests earlier this year, has centred most on economic and social issues, allegedly corrupt politicians, stagnation and jobs – at 27.5%, the unemployment rate in Bosnia is consistently among the highest in the Balkans. The employment rate remains below 40%, and two-thirds of young people are jobless. Meanwhile, the salary of lawmakers is six times the country’s average wage – a rarely lopsided difference, making Bosnia’s MPs, relatively speaking, among the richest in Europe. An additional blow to the economy were the devastating floods in May, which inflicted damages of €2bn (about 15% of the country’s GDP). … Bosnia and Herzegovina comprises two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Republika Srpska. The main cities in the Federation are the capital Sarajevo, and the cities of Mostar, Tuzla, Bihac and Zenica, while in the Republika Srpska entity the main cities are Banja Luka, Bijeljina, Prijedor and Trebinje. Formally part of both entities is theBrčko District, a multi-ethnic self-governing administrative unit.
Within this system there is the constant backdrop of different aspirations: Republika Srpska seeking greater autonomy, Croat parties angling for a third entity, and several Bosniak parties hoping for a more centrally governed country.
… A directly elected tripartite Presidency, which is in charge of foreign, diplomatic and military affairs, and the budget of state-level institutions. The three presidency members are from the three constituent nations – one Bosniak, one Serb, one Croat. Quite controversially, the candidates are “self-defined” as such and must only claim one identity, so you cannot have someone standing (or voting) for both the Bosniak and Croat member, or identifying outside these pre-constituted groups – for example, anyone who considers themselves as simply Bosnian, Roma or Croat andJewish, is ineligible. Each member is separately elected by plurality vote (the candidate with most votes, but not necessarily a majority, wins).