On October 3rd, Bosnian citizens voted in a bewildering array of elections at the federal and entity level (Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat Federation) that reflected the nation’s troubling, deep divisions. Voters from the Bosniak-Croat Federation largely turned to moderate politicians, while Bosnian Serbs re-elected their nationalist party, which continues to call openly for secession.
Next month marks the 15th anniversary of the end of the Bosnian war, and the nation remains trapped by its convoluted and unwieldy government and the hyper-nationalist politicians in Republika Srpska (RS), who actively work towards the dissolution of the nation. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, former RS prime minister and its newly elected president, Milorad Dodik shared “his opinion that in 15 years the state of Bosnia-Hercegovina will no longer exist.”
Dysfunction, corruption, and patronage run deeply through the administration of both of Bosnia’s entities. A new report from the International Crisis Group (ICG) describes the Bosniak-Croat Federation as “a dense bureaucracy, whose various parts function in competition or open conflict with one another, and a suffocating thicket of confusing and often contradictory legislation and regulation. Federation administrative bloat and disorder make Bosnia’s larger entity one of Europe’s worst places to do business and choke its people’s economic potential.” Bosnia, which hopes for EU membership, faces an economic crisis with 40% unemployment and stagnant growth.
But alongside the gloomy assessment, the ICG report shares a piece of good news:
A March 2010 survey found that while Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks do not share a common vision of the state’s future constitutional arrangement, they also do not object to close relationships with each other and that, “primarily different political interests, rather than ethnic hatred, lie behind differences in visions of a common state.” Reported ethnic incidents remain relatively scarce, though they increased in 2008 and 2009.