Consolidation of Milorad Dodik’s SNSD in Republika Srpska, Bosniak SDA remaining in power and Željko Komšić’s ousting of the incumbent Croatian member of the Presidency are the main takeaways of general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina that took place on October 7.
A month of official and several months of unofficial gruelling campaign mostly concluded without major upsets. After serving two full terms as a President of the entity Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik will now become a Serb member of the country’s three-member Presidency. His party, SNSD, also won Republika Srpska’s Presidency, with Željka Cvijanović narrowly coming above Vukota Govedarica of SDS. It also won a comfortable majority in Republika Srpska’s Assembly (though it will have to find a coalition partner) and was the most successful Serb party in the elections for the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH.
According to European Western Balkans, Dodik’s victory over the incumbent Serbian member of the Presidency Mladen Ivanić, who was supported by SDS, seemed less certain after major protests that took place in Banja Luka, Republika Srpska’s capital. Indeed, his margin of victory in the city was less than 1%, significantly lower than the overall 10%, and he even lost in some other urban areas, such as Bijeljina and Doboj. However, the popular outrage over the apparent murder of the 21-year old student in March this year and the subsequent cover-up by the police proved to be insufficient to push Ivanić (or, for that matter, Govedarica) across the finish line.
When it comes to Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, SDA and HDZ BIH managed to remain the leading parties among Bosniaks and Croats, respectively. There is little doubt, nevertheless, that SDA’s position is not nearly as dominant as it was during the 1990s. This can easily be seen from the margin of victory of less than 3% its candidate for the Presidency Šefik Džaferović achieved against Social Democratic Party’s candidate.
The most controversial result of all was the victory Željko Komšić pulled off against the incumbent Dragan Čović, leader of the HDZ BIH, for the Croat member of the Presidency. It is assumed that he was elected with the votes of Bosniaks, who have the right to vote for either Bosniak or Croat member of the Presidency within the of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and outnumber Croats by 4:1.
“I am sad to see that an old story repeated itself once more. We are again in a situation where members of one constituent people on the territory of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina are electing a representative of another, the Croat people,” said Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenković, who strongly backed Čović ahead of the vote.