As the election day approaches (October 7), the campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and especially in the Republika Srpska entity, has reached its sharp edge.
Based on its latest decision, the Central Election Commision BiH (CEC BiH) fined the leader of the Alliance of the Independent Social Democrats and RS president, Milorad Dodik, with 7 000 BAM (about 3 500 Euro) because he insulted Davor Dragičević, the father of the murdered 21-year-old David Dragičević. For more than 190 days Davor and his supporters have been protesting in Banja Luka’s square, demanding the truth about the death of this young man. During his recent pre-election speech in the city of Bileća Dodik said that Davor “put a bed on the square and thinks he’s cool”. He also insulted a few opposition candidates, but this is no news in BiH’s election campaigns’ reality.
Recently, CEC BiH fined Serb Democratic Party’s (SDS) candidate who is running for the Republika Srpska presidency, Vukota Govedarica, for his use of hate speech because he accused another candidate, Željka Cvijanović’s (SNSD) grandfather of being a member of the Ustaša during WWII and killing a large number of Serbs. CEC BiH regarded this as “hate speech” claiming it could cause violence and divisions among people.
In fact, Davor Dragičević became the main figure in the election process in Republika Srpska. He and his friends have called for the big gathering on Friday, October 5, two days before the general elections, on the main Banja Luka square. The RS Ministry of Interior has said it will be misused by opposition parties that could violently prevent Sunday’s voting and would try reach power in an illegal manner. The SNSD has planned his final pre-election rally on that same day, and at the same place, but two hours later.
Many Banja Luka citizens were critical of the celebratory character of the pre-election rally mentioned above, since, according to them, it is inappropriate to organise a festive event at the place where a father of a dead youth is looking for answers for his son’s “end”.
Bearing this in mind, opposition parties gathered at the Alliance for Victory (former Alliance for Changes) coalition instead, cancelling their final rally that was supposed to take place 200 metres away from the square.
Adding fuel to the fire, the SNSD has said violent groups from Federation BiH will support the gathering on the square organised by the “Justice for David” group. Regardless of being true or not, police presence on Banja Luka’s streets on Friday will be particularly heavy. At the same time, the police has appealed on the “Justice for David” group as well as on other “organisers of other gatherings” to cancel all events on that day since security might be at stake.
Meanwhile, the situation in Federation BiH is clearer than the one in Republika Srpska. Citizens will vote for candidates they already know from previous elections and nobody expects any surprises. Bosniaks will choose between candidates from the Party of the Democratic Action (SDA) led by the Bakir Izetbegović, and from the Party for Better Future BiH (SBB BiH) with Fahrudin Radončić behind its wheel. Radončić is running as a candidate for the Bosniak member of the BiH Presidency so, Izetbegović cannot run for the same post since he has already spent two terms in office of this joint institution.
Croats in BiH will have a problem to elect their member to the BiH Presidency since changes in the Election Law are not accepted by the BiH Parliament. The changes had been proposed by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) so as to prevent Bosniak voters from casting their ballot in favour of a Croatian member (who will be elected as a member) of the Presidency. That being said, Željko Komšić’s Democratic Front (DF) has high hopes of winning his election opponent and HDZ head, Dragan Čović.
To conclude, it is important to say that the October 7 elections will bring about political change in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, it is equally possible that the pre-mentioned changes will come as a result of a constitutional crisis. It remains unknown how long new governments will need to be established. This is an issue exclusively dependent on BiH’s major parties…. / IBNA