After yearsof dissatisfaction of a large number of Party of Democratic Action (SDA) members, which is under the Bakir Izetbegović leadership, the largest Bosniak political party is going through its biggest crisis in the last two decades.
The events in the last month proved that the dissatisfaction was latent and that prominent party members will no longer allow Izetbegović continue to lead them in same manner, or to install somebody of his close associates to the important positions on Federation BiH entity, or state, level. According to the rumors, Izetbegović’s attempt to put forward his wife Sebija for next Bosniak in the BiH Presidency was the initial spark. The next few weeks will determine whether Izetbegović will survive or face the biggest debacle in his political career. For now, SDA has suffered the dissolution of two governments in Federation BiH cantons and one SDA cantonal PM resigned.
Bakir Izetbegović political rise begun after his father, Alija Izetbegović, founder of SDA, war president of BiH and member of BiH Presidency after the war, resigned due to illness from party leader in 2001. On the subsequent party elections, Bakir was a candidate but lost after a tight run to Sulejman Tihić.
Despite the fact that he failed to succeed his father in the leadership of the party, on the 2010 General Election Bakir Izetbegović was elected Bosniak member of BiH Presidency. On the following elections, in 2014, he was reelected for the next four years. According to the Election Law, he is not entitled to run for the same position in October’s elections this year. This fact triggered the internal SDA battle for Izetbegović successor on this political post.
Here is where Bakir’s wife, Sebija Izetbegović, comes into the picture. In last few years, Sebija began her political career under his supervision. It came as a surprise to many party members, but the last events clarified their intentions. Sebija Izetbegović came under the focus of the public with her appointment to general manager of the biggest hospital in BiH, University Clinical Centre in Sarajevo. Just a few days after her arrival, the best doctors started to abandon the hospital because of Sebija’s “torture”. The public was astonished when Bakir “lend” the official BiH Presidency vehicle to Sebija for her visit to the hospital in Tuzla. The first explanation of this misuse of the official car was that Bakir wanted to protect her, since hospital official vehicles are not suitable for a trip like that. After that, Bakir and Sebija produced several other explanations. But, that was not the end of the story. Since Bakir cannot run for Presidency member, he tried to convince SDA Main Board to back Sebija as candidate.
For every single one of the prominent members of the party, that was too much. Now is obvious that Sebija will not receive the support of the party, but each party wing has a different name in mind. The most likely candidates, as it seems at the moment, are present Chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers, Denis Zvizdić, and SDA vice president, Safet Softić. Both of them have a real chance to get the candidate status but it is uncertain which wing will win the battle.
Zvizdić is a more moderate politician who can be successful in the BiH Presidency due to his experience in the Council. But there is a glitch in his biography, and that is that he avoided the participation in the war since he was out of the country the whole time. His opponents use this fact to show his lack of patriotism, which is still very important in BiH.
On the other side, Softić doesn’t have any significant experience at a leadership position in joint BiH institutions, but is politically suitable. Softić has Izetbegović support and the party leader, since his wife is not serious candidate any more, is trying to cleanse the space among party members for Softić candidature. Analysts say that this “cleansing” is the only reason Izetbegović replaced the whole party leadership in the Tuzla Canton, due to their support to Zvizdić.
A few months ago, a group of SDA members left the party and formed a new one. If Izetbegović fails to calm the situation in the party down in the next few months, there is a big chance that a large number of members will join that new party called “Nezavisni blok” (“Independent bloc”). If this happens, SDA will become a small conservative party.
Not to mention it will signal the end of Izetbegović’s dynasty./ΙΒΝΑ