Monday, September 11, 2006

Bosnian Elections

Unfortunately, it seems as if the title for my previous post on PBS topic could also work for this topic. Elections are slated to take place in October; but they are already the subject of much division and constroversy.
I've been asked to write about the elections, and I was planning on writing about them for a while; but writing about the elections are much easier said than done.
However, just on an overview of the election shows that this does seem to be a very divisive campaign, where nationalism and jingoism unfortunately seems to be (for the most part) the rule rather the exception. To further complicate matters, there is also the issue over the status of the Republika Srpska entry in Bosnia, and whether it should be dismantled and incorporated into Bosnia, or whether it should be completely separate from Bosnia and be able to annex itself to Serbia. (Which would probably spark another Balkan war). To complicate matters, there is also greater regional issues, such as the status of Kosovo.

These elections are part of Bosnia's growing process. And there is bound to be some awkwardness involved. However, these elections and all of the issues they represent: the constitutional debate, debate over the RS, debate over war criminals and war crimes tribunal seems to bring out the worst in the politicians. Many of whom are resorting to nationalist slogans in order appeal to their base. The fact that they are using this tactic is frightening enough, the fact that it appears to be working for them, is even more frightening.
There are some voices in the wilderness though. Human rights groups based in Bosnia have issued press releases calling for the nation's politicians to focus more on the issues and not on nationalist rhetoric. A group of citizens from all ethnic groups are working as election observers to make sure that the elections are carried out in a fair manner.
While I obviously cannot speak for the people in Bosnia, they are no different than people the world over; and I'm sure that their primary concern is for their children's future and education, to lower the level of unemployment and to find a way to support their families and live in dignity.
It seems that many of these issues have been ignored by many politicians in favor of rallying cries of nationalism and ethnic division.

Aug 27th NYT/IHT article on Ethnic Division and Election.

What is your thoughts on the elections? Is my pessimism warrented or not? Or, am I not pessimistic enough?


Srebrenica Massacre said...

Elections are just waste of money as people always seem to choose same nationalist parties. But the question is: Do they really have any better alternatives ?

Bg anon said...

I couldnt agree more SM with your conclusions Shaina. Dont know if you should be even more negative - I hope not.

My concerns about Bosnia, Kosovo etc (or rather my rather pessimistic viewpoint) is there to be disproved. In other words I really hope that I'm wrong (not like the nationalist types who almost enjoy it when something goes wrong - even for their own people, just so they can be proven right).

The fact is that there is little on the horizon to give cause for optimism. In theory I would sanction or support the creation of a new Bosnian non ethnic party that functions throughout Bosnia. I seem to remember there was such a (youth???) party created some years back but they have vanished from the radar.

The West would have to back this party with big dineros and completely hold back from influencing policy decisions as well for such a party to have half a chance of success. They could hire the best PR people, the best campaign techniques, they could have real policies etc. It would be nice for somebody to give that a proper shot.

Something else should be bourne in mind. Although Bosnia is largely a victim of circumstance the truth is many of its politicians do not have a clue how to solve its problems. So they are almost happy to resort to cynical nationalist style policies - they dont know any other way since multi-party elections begun in Bosnia.

I think this type of action particularly for Bosnian unitarists (or Bosniaks if you want to simplify) doesnt help their cause in the long run even if they may pick up some cheap votes. The Bosnian Serbs on the other hand benefit more from hardline statements in the federation. Unitarists have to be conciliatory, reasonable, democratic and respectable in the eyes of the outside world. If they are not, as is the case now, they stand a good chance of losing the argument. That of course means that the chances of Republika Srpska being allowed to form an independent state increases.

Like I inferred I wish Bosnia all the best and hope that my prognosis is wrong.

BTW I doubt you ever run short of topics but if you are interested you might want to take a look at the recent elections in Novi Pazar where the two Bosniak parties are bitterly fighting each other.

Its actually a prime example of the reality of Yugoslav politics. On the outside everything is ethnic, on the inside its just all about power and exploiting the masses. If the shooting of those guys had been carried out by non Bosniaks the EU and human rights groups would have turned up and condemnation of Serbia would have ensued. But because those that committed the violence are from the same ethnic group, well its kind of not so bad right?

Kind of reminds me of that genocide point that I made a while back.

Shaina said...

I'd like to post a longer reply later. But as for now...

What about the SDP party in Bosnia? I'm not aware of their specific policies, besides what can be infered from them being a socialist-democratic party. But, according to previous election results, they are the most popular non ethnic based party in Bosnia.
They carry the majority of seats in Tuzla and I'm pretty sure the mayor of Tuzla is a member of the SDP.