The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. IFIMES has prepared an analysis of the current political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and carried out a public opinion poll in that country in the light of the forthcoming general election scheduled for 7 October 2018. The most relevant and interesting sections from a comprehensive analysis entitled “Bosnia and Herzegovina – 2018 general election: Favourites are individuals rather than political parties” are published below.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) will hold regular general election on 7 October 2018 when members of BiH Presidency, members of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH, members of the Parliament of the Federation of BiH, members of the National Assembly of Republika Srpska and members of the cantonal assemblies in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be elected.
The Central Election Commission (CIK) of Bosnia and Herzegovina is expected to call the general election at the beginning of May 2018. Traditionally, elections are called much earlier in order to enable the diaspora to vote.
After several years of instability and political crisis the Council of Ministers of BiH managed to prepare the responses to the European Commission Questionnaire, which represents an important step towards European integration for this country. Although the election has not been officially called yet, the campaign is well underway.
The local election held in Bosnia and Herzegovina in October 2016 led to the redistribution of political power at the local level.
The Council of Ministers became the promoter of positive political processes as regards the Euro-Atlantic integration. It has made some visible efforts to consolidate Bosnia and Herzegovina and bring it closer to EU and NATO membership. To achieve that goal it is of outmost importance to reach a broad social consensus and partnership with the citizens and the civil society.
Chairman of the Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdić istogether with his coalition partners on a good path to resolve the most difficult political issues. It is also of immense importance to submit the European Commission Questionnaire and to carry out the activities related to the adoption of BiH's MAP at the next NATO summit, which will open the door to full NATO membership of this country.The general nation-wide consensus on the key issues is therefore of vital importance.The new European Commission strategy on EU enlargement has given new hopes for Bosnia and Herzegovina to soon gain the candidate status, begin negotiations with the EU and unblock the integration process.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's NATO membership is of strategic interest for all the countries in the region including Serbia, since it will ensure stability and peace in the region.
The priority task at all levels of state authorities should be the democratic recovery of the society through professional and depoliticized institutions. They should have zero tolerance to corruption and violation of human rights. The newly adopted law on excise duties ensures financial consolidation and stabilisation. A substantial increase in GDP is anticipated in the next period. Being aware of its immense importance for the country's recovery and promotion the government has developed cooperation with the diaspora which had been neglected in the past years. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a relatively small country located at a unique geopolitical position and as such it can only function if it has good friendly relations with all its neighbouring countries. In view of its special geographical position huge efforts have been invested in becoming the 31st NATO member state right after Macedonia. Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2018 and the endeavours undertaken by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov have contributed a further positive impulse to all these efforts.
The IFIMES International Institute believes that the EU's support to the democratic politicians in the Western Balkans is of key importance to resolve the crisis in the region.The EU has to make a very responsible and hard decision whether to support political leaders and states that undermine the security and peace in the Western Balkans and Europe or to take the harder path and support democracy and enthusiastic politicians without any burdens from the past who have decided to deal with the nationalistic, chauvinistic, criminal, (pro)fascist and autocratic regimes and politics in their countries and in the whole Western Balkans.
The above stated reasons require urgent changes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, in order to achieve their realisation, it is necessary to motivate the passive voters. About 50% of citizens who do not turn out at elections, which means that election results in Bosnia and Herzegovina are not decided by those who vote but by those who do not vote. Unsparing efforts should be made to “wake up” those passive voters and ensure the atmosphere in which they would give their votes to reputable and uncompromised candidates. The participation of women and the young in BiH politics is minimal. The current political structures have created barriers for those who are not under their direct or indirect control to prevent them from entering the political scene.
The IFIMES International Institute carried out a public opinion poll in the period from 8th to 18th April 2018 on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the Federation of BiH and Republika Srpska) using the in-depth field interview method. The standard deviation was +/-3. Control was carried out per 10% of the sample. The degree of reliability was 95%.
The random three-stage sample was used of 1411 respondents who are male and female citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina of lawful age. 84 randomly selected respondents refused to participate in the survey while 49 respondents did not comply with the defined sample. Demographic data was obtained from the Agency for Statistics of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The structure of respondents from urban and non-urban areas has been harmonised approximately. The ethnic, sexual, age, social and educational structure of the respondents resembles the structure of the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the basis of the data from the Agency for Statistics of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The public opinion poll did not cover the territory of the Brčko District of BiH and the diaspora. The answers to the most relevant and interesting questions are presented below.
1. Do you support Bosnia and Herzegovina's accession to the EU?
- YES 72%
- NO 13%
- UNDECIDED 15%
2. Do you support Bosnia and Herzegovina's accession to NATO?
- YES 69%
- NO 26%
- UNDECIDED 5%
3. Do you regard the Republic of Serbia as a friendly country?
- YES 41%
- NO 39%
- UNDECIDED 20%
4. Which is in your opinion more important for the election of political representatives: the reputation of an individual candidate or his adherence to the political party that supports him/her?
- INDIVIDUAL 56,5%
- POLITICAL PARTY 16,0%
- INDIVIDUAL AND POLITICAL PARTY 22,6%
- I DON'T KNOW 4,9%
5. How important do you consider the efforts of political parties to protect national interests?
- VERY IMPORTANT 49,7%
- IMPORTANT 22,3%
- NOT IMPORTANT 11,7%
- I DON'T KNOW 16,3%
6. How would you assess the work of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
- POSITIVELY 38%
- NEGATIVELY 49%
- UNDECIDED 13%
7. How would you assess the work of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
- POSITIVELY 52%
- NEGATIVELY 29%
- UNDECIDED 19%
8. Who would you support as a Bosniak candidate for member of BiH Presidency?
- Safet Softić 10%
- Šefik Džaferović 15 %
- Denis Zvizdić 62%
- Adil Osmanović 13%
9. Who would you support as a Croat candidate for member of BiH Presidency?
- Dragan Čović 39%
- Željko Komšić 61%
10. Who would you support as a Serb candidate for member of BiH Presidency?
- Mladen Ivanić 49%
- Milorad Dodik 51 %
Ljubljana, 25 April 2018