On 28 December 2011, fifteen months after the October 2010 parliamentary elections, leaders of the main political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) — the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Union of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), its sister party HDZ 1990, and the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) — reached an agreement to form a state level government. Consequently former finance minister of the Bosniak-Croat entity BiH Federation, Vejkoslav Bevenda (HDZ), was appointed Prime Minister on 12 January 2012. Bevenda hopes to lead BiH towards the EU by implementing the aquis communautair, and to strengthen the economic situation, improve living standards and security and safety for the citizens. The formation of the new government is a relief for the financial situation as the country is in a financial chaos partly because the last national budget was agreed for the financial year 2010.
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- 3,810,416 million (World Bank 2015 est.)
- Governmental Type:
- Emerging Federal Democratic Republic
- Ruling Coalition:
- Social Democratic Party (SDP), Union of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Croatian Democratic Union of BiH (HDZ BiH), Croatian Democratic Union 1990 (HDZ 1990)
- Last Elections:
- 2 October 2016 (local elections)
- Next Elections:
- 2018 (presidential elections)
- Sister Parties:
- Social Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina (SDP BiH)
|Party||No of municipalities won||Party||No of municipalities won|
|Alliance of SDA and SBB||34||HDZ||18|
The presumption by the international community that the continuous reduction of international supervision and the magnetic attraction of EU integration would convince Bosnia’s political leaders to pursue the rigorous reforms necessary for EU accession has proven to be illusory. If anything, the opposite has been the case. Negotiations to amend the existing constitution, established by Dayton, in order to strengthen state institutions and transform the country into a non-ethnic parliamentary democracy, have so far failed to make much progress.
Presence of the international community
The presence of the international community is coordinated through the Office of High Representative for BiH (OHR) which is the state's ultimate authority, responsible for overseeing implementation of civilian aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement. The international community’s High Representative (HR) in BiH, which at the same time is the EU Special Representative for BiH assists the authorities of the country to implement the five objectives and two conditions set out by the Peace Implementation Council (PIC). The PIC was established during the Dayton Accords. The Steering Board of the Council provides the HR with political guidance. However, it has proven to be difficult to reach a consensus on main issues between members of the PIC Steering board that consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Presidency of the European Union, the European Commission and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference represented by Turkey. Therefore the position of the HR on certain issues is vague. The HR’s office must stay in place until the set goals have been achieved and ensure implementation of the 1995 Dayton Accords, which include “peaceful coexistence within one single state of different ethnic communities”. When these goals are achieved, the HR will be replaced by an EU Special Representative for BiH. The EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, headed by Peter Sorensen, has increasingly taken up several tasks and is the second largest delegation of the world.
The SAA-agreement and road to EU-membership
In October 2005, ten years after the signing of the Dayton peace agreement, BiH started the negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA). The start on the SAA was made possible only after BiH agreed on reforms set as a condition by the European Commission (EC) in its Feasibility Study, published in 2003. The EC announced sixteen areas, which needed reform in order to start the negotiations on the SAA. The aim of the reforms was to strengthen the central government, thereby improving the efficiency of the state administration. The same year BiH became a potential candidate country for EU accession following the Thessaloniki European Council. In 2005, reform of the defence, the police and establishment of a state law on the public broadcasting system remained as the last three conditions to be fulfilled. Obstacles to initiate reforms came from BiH’s smaller entity, RS, which opposes a strong state government at the expense of the entity’s powers.
RS and the Federation agreed on implementing reforms requested by the EU in October 2005, but police-reforms remained a key problem. Finally in April 2008 an agreement was reached on the nature of the police-reforms that united the Federation’s and RS’s police-units. This was essential for further negotiations on the signing of the SAA, which ultimately happened on 16 June 2008. An Interim Agreement on Trade and Trade-related issues, which was signed on the same day, entered into force on 1 July 2008. Earlier on 1 January 2008 the visa facilitation and readmission agreements had entered into force, after which a new European partnership with Bosnia and Herzegovina was adopted by the Council on 18 February 2008. The EU also continues to be present in Bosnia and Herzegovina within the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the European Security and Defence Policy.
As a consequence of the political deadlock after the 2010 elections no further required reforms were implemented and the country fell even further behind in the EU integration process. In its 2011 Progress report, the European Commission concluded that little progress has been made. The ethnic and political division and the lack of willingness among the political elite to move forward as the status quo benefits the ruling elite seem to be the main reasons for the slow implementation of the reforms. Pressure from within the society has proven to be crucial for achieving progress. Clear and achievable goals, such as visa liberalisation, are important tools for making concrete steps on the road to EU membership.
In 2009, the European Court of Human Rights urged the country to change its constitution to allow ethnic minorities to be elected for top governing posts such as the presidency and the House of Peoples. These posts are currently reserved for Bosniacs, Serbs and Croats only. On 11 April 2013 the EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle gave Bosnia and Herzegovina a warning over the implementation of the Sejdic and Finci human rights ruling, during a meeting with the leaders of the seven main parties. Füle claimed that the country has not made significant improvements in implementing the ruling since three years. He clearly stated that the upcoming general elections in 2014 will not be recognized if the country does not implement these demands. The human rights ruling is a precondition for BiH to join the EU.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (state-level)
The parliament consists of two houses. The house of the people’s has 15 delegates: five for each ethnic group. The Serb representatives are appointed by the parliament of the RS and Bosniaks and Croats are employed from the parliament of the F BiH. The House of Representatives has 42 members. Two third is elected from the F BiH and one third from the RS by regular elections for a four year mandate. Their role is to adopt the state budget, to elect the government on the proposal of the presidency, and to adopt laws.
The presidency consists of three persons elected by direct election for a four-year mandate. The Serb member of the presidency is elected from the RS and the Croat and Bosniak members are elected from the F BiH. They rotate every eight months on ethnic principle.
Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (entity)
Similar to the state-level, the entity F BiH has a two-housed parliament. The house of the people’s has 58 delegates elected from ten cantonal assemblies: 17 Bosniaks, 17 Croats, 17 Serbs and 7 other nationalities. Its role is to protect the ethnic interests of the represented ethnic groups. The House of Representatives has 98 members elected directly from election districts on open lists.
Republic Srpska (entity)
RS has a two-chamber parliament as well, consisting of the council of people’s and the national assembly. The council of people’s has the same responsibilities as the house of people’s in F BiH but has a different structure. There are four ethnic clubs: 8 Serbs, 8 Bosniaks, 8 Croats and 4 other elected municipal councils, due to the fact that there are no cantons in RS. The national assembly has 83 members elected for a four-year term, around three quarters elected in multi-seat constituencies and one quarter through compensatory lists.
In addition there exists the district of Brcko which is a self-governing administrative unit, established as a neutral area under joint Serb, Croat and Bosniak authority.
On Sunday 12 October 2014, citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina voted for the central parliament and the state level presidency, in which the latter consists of three presidents. The presidents represent the three ethnicities in the country: Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian. Next to that, the elections also included the entity level assemblies in both the Bosnian-Croat Federation and the Serbian Republika Srpska. For the latter, a new president was to be elected.
National Parliament of BiH (state-level parliament), 2014
The SDA and the SNSD were the main winners of the 2014 elections, with the SDA winning ten seats in the government, whereas SNSD won six. In the months following the elections, the central Council of Ministers has been formed, and is led by Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic of the SDA. A new Entity Cabinet is endorsed in the Republika Srpska (RS). This entity government will be comprised of four parties under Zeljka Cvijanovic of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD).
The big loser during the October elections was the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which slid from 24.53% of the votes during the 2010 elections to 9.45% of the votes in 2014. The slid-back comes as most SDP voters were disappointed with the lack of reforms, the deteriorating economic situation and the slow progress in the fight against corruption. In addition, SDP faced internal struggles as high ranked party official Zeljko Komsic left the party and established a new party: the Democratic Front (DF).
Official results BiH House of Representatives
|Party of Democratic Action (SDA)||10|
|Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD)||6|
|Serbian Democratic Party (SDS)||5|
|Union for a Better Future of BiH (SBBBiH)||4|
|HDZ-HSS-HKDU-HSP-AS BiH-HSP HB||4|
|Social Democratic Party (SDP)||3|
|Croatian Coalition (HDZ) 1990||1|
|BiH Patriotic Party-Sefer Halilovic||1|
|Democratic People's Alliance||1|
|Party for BiH (SBiH)||0|
|Party of Democratic Activity||1|
Republika Srpska parliament and presidency (entity-level), 2014
The Serb Democratic Party (SDS) lost its status as leading party in Republika Srpska to the Union of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) in 2006. However, in the 2014 elections many Serbs turned back to the SDS (formerly led by war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic) which got 32.64% of the votes with 5 seats in parliament. SNSD still came out as the main party in Republika Srpska with 38.46% and 6 seats in parliament.
Official results Republika Srpska entity parliament
|Party||% of votes||Seats|
|Union of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD)||32.28||29|
|Serbian Democratic Party (SDS)||26.26||24|
|Democratic People’s Union (DNZ BiH)||9.22||8|
|Party for Democratic Progress (PDP)||7.38||7|
|Party of Democratic Action (SDA)||5.13||5|
Results RS Presidency
|Candidate||% of votes|
|Milorad Dodik (SNSD)||45.40|
|Ognjen Tadic (Coalition Together for Srpska)||44.28|
|Ramiz Salkić (Domovina)||3.63|
Federation of BiH parliament and presidency (entity-level), 2014
Bosniaks massively moved away from the multi-ethnic Social Democratic Party (SDP) which greatly won the previous elections. Instead, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), a Bosnian party, became the main party in the Federation (27.87%), and on national level (18.74% with 10 seats in state level parliament).
The Croats largely re-elected their nationalist parties with the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HDZ BiH) gaining 7.54% of the votes nationwide, giving them 4 seats in the parliament.
Formation of the state government and the government in the Federation entity have not been completed yet. In the Federation entity, the formation was delayed, as more time was needed to select the Serbian deputies for the entity assembly’s House of Peoples. The House of Peoples was not yet officially constituted. Therefore, a candidate for vice presidency of the entity could not be proposed, which delayed the appointment of a Premier-designate. Indirectly, the absence of Serb deputies therefore halted the formation of government at state level. The majority of Serbian seats in the Federation House of Peoples belong to the SNSD and the SDP.
The ruling coalition in the Federation is comprised of the SDA, the HDZ and the DF. This coalition intends to also form the state-level government by joining forces with the Alliance for Changes and the opposition Serbian bloc from Republika Srpska.
Official results F BiH
|Party||% of votes||Seats|
|Party of Democratic Action (SDA)||27.79||29|
|Union for a Better Future of BiH (SBBBiH)||14.71||16|
|Democratic Front (DF)||12.90||14|
|Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)||11.93||12|
|Social Democratic Party (SDP)||10.14||12|
|Croatian Coalition (HDZ 1990 – HSP Croatian Party of Rights)||4.04||4|
|Bosnian-Herzegovinian Patriotic Party (BHPP)||3.72||4|
|Party of BiH (SBiH)||3.30||3|
Regarding the results of the elections, four developments can be extracted. First, 19 years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, which unified the three aforementioned ethnicities, citizens are still voting among ethnic lines. Second, the 2014 street protests have not caused many changes in the division of power. Third, opposition leader Mladen Ivanić (Party of Democratic Progress) defeated Zeljka Cvijanovic (the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats) in the election for the tripartite Bosnian State presidency. This is noteworthy, as the re-elected President of the Republika Srpska shares the same party as Zeljka Cvijanovic: the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats. Fourth, Željko Komsić’s new party, Democratic Front, received more votes (12.90%) than his former party, the Social Democratic Party (10.14%). Željko Komsić changed parties in 2012 due to disagreements with the leadership of the Social Democratic Party.
Official results rotating presidency
|Bosniak Member||Croation Member||Serbian Member|
Bakir Izetbegovic (SDA) 32.86%
|Dragan Ćović (HDZ) 52.20%||Mladen Ivanic (Coalition Together for Srpska) 48.69%|
|Fahrudin Radoncic (SBBBiH) 26.78 %||Martin Raguź (HDZ)38.6%||Źeljka Cvijanović 48.69%|
|Emir Suljagić DF 15.12%||Źivko Budimir (HSP) 6,26%||Goran Zmijanjac 3.66%|
With 32.86% of the votes, Bakir Izetbegović (Party of Democratic Actrion, SDA) has been re-elected for the Bosnian position in the rotating national presidency. Dragan Ćović (HDZ) took the Croatian seat with 52.20%, and Mladen Ivanic (Coalition Together for Srpska) was the strongest in the Serbian elections. The latter narrowly won from Źeljka Cvijanović , who held 48.69% of the votes. Bakir Izetbegović was the only member of the tripartite Presidency to be re-elected, he stated the following: “I expect the presidency to be a strong engine driving this country forward on the path of reform toward reaching our most important goal — to become a rightful member of the union of free and democratic European nations.”
Social Democratic Parties
Leader Social Democratic Party of Bosnia (SDP)Read biography
President Republika Srpska (RS) and Leader Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD)Read biography
President of BiH (Croat seat) and Social Democratic Party (SDP)Read biography
President of BiH (Serbian seat) and Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD)Read biography
President of BiH (Bosniak seat) and Party of Democratic Action (SDA)Read biography
Leader SDA (Party of Democratic Action)Read biography
Prime-minister Bosnia and Herzegovina Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)Read biography
- CIA Country Profile
- BBC Country Profile
- European Commission
- predsjednistvobihwww. csis.org
- Human Rights Watch
- The Economist