It is easy to write off Bosnia as a dysfunctional country hobbled by unnecessary layers of government in which nothing works. In fact, despite an unduly complex system of government that was the price of ending the war in 1995, Bosnia works—but badly. The elections held on October 12th will probably not alter that. Yet to dismiss them as just one more round of political musical chairs would be wrong. Some change may now be in the air. The war left Bosnia divided between the Serb-run Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation, which is dominated by Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) and Croats. The Federation is divided into ten cantons. In February it was rocked by rioters demonstrating against their parasitic politicians. In May much of the country was engulfed by floods that caused terrible damage. Bosnia’s infrastructure is run down partly because so much money has been stolen but also because it has to pay for too many levels of government.
In the Federation elections, the Social Democrats, who have dominated the past four years, lost heavily; power has shifted towards a Bosniak nationalist party. But many urban middle-class voters moved to an entirely new party, called the Democratic Front, which could play a role in future governments.
In the RS, Milorad Dodik, its long-standing leader, lost support to an opposition that has become more credible. Mr Dodik wants the RS to secede, a move that could spark a new war. He will remain president of the RS, but it is not yet clear if his party will form its next government. His candidate lost the party’s seat in the three-person presidency of Bosnia to Mladen Ivanic, a politician associated with a period of progress that ended in 2006. The presidency is not a powerful position, but the return of Mr Ivanic, says Jasmin Mujanovic, an analyst, “is huge”. It suggests Mr Dodik’s long domination of Bosnian Serb politics is coming to an end.
Full Article: Bosnia’s elections: Wind of change | The Economist.