Bosnia and Herzegovina officially entered its pre-election campaign time ahead of the October 7 general polls. The BiH Central Election Commission (BiH CEC) made the formal announcement regarding its beginning, which will wrap up on Saturday October 6, at 07.00 a.m. local.
According to BiH CEC, 3 352 933 citizens with the right to vote are registered on the Central Voters’ List, while 3 254 767 of them will be eligible to vote in the upcoming polls. Citizens’ vote will decide the three members of the BiH Presidency, Members of the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH (28 from the FBiH, 14 from the Republika Srpska – total 42), the House of Representatives of the Federal Parliament (98) and the RS National Assembly (83), the President and two Vice-Presidents of the RS and MPs in 10 assemblies in Federation BiH cantons. A total of 518 mandate holders will be elected.
For now, 53 parties, 36 coalitions and 34 independent candidates have been registered for the October election. Compared to the general elections of 2014, there is an increase of 30 political entities. On the 804 candidates’ lists, there are 7,497 enlisted candidates for the corresponding positions.
“The general election will cost 8,5 million BAM (about €4.3 million)”, CEC BiH member, Stjepan Mikić told the media.
He called on all political parties and candidates to refrain from speech that would cause tension to rise, so that the elections can be carried out peacefully, in a just and democratic atmosphere.
The delegation of the European Union to BiH emphasised that elections are a key pillar of democracy.
“In October, the citizens of BiH will exercise their right to make political choices about the future.In spite of progress under the reform agenda, challenges persist. BiH needs a discussion and focus on the continued much needed reforms; this is something citizens and youth in BiH rightfully expect. European integration offers a model for this development and the country has chosen this path. Candidates and political parties owe it to those citizens to discuss issues of real importance during the campaign. Political leaders at all levels should refrain from negative, divisive and irresponsible rhetoric. This will only harm the country and its citizens. All politicians bear the responsibility to create an atmosphere of dialogue and tolerance. Media freedom and pluralism are crucial elements for an open and free democratic debate”, the EU press release read.
It was stressed that “serious challenges await the elected authorities at all levels”, because they will have to be addressed after the elections while they will deserve the appropriate attention that will have to be paid already during the election campaign. Such issues, the EU Delegation said, include improving the rule of law, tackling corruption, job creation, ensuring better public services and working to make BiH a country where citizens can realise their full potential.
In this framework, the Union’s delegation stressed the following: “The relevant domestic authorities, institutions, political parties and candidates must ensure the integrity of the election process and the security and safety of the poll. Elections must be free and fair. International and domestic election observers have an important role to play in this respect; they should be assisted in performing their duties. The EU Delegation to BiH and EUSR call on candidates and political leaders to act with the best for BiH on their minds. Focus on BiH’s and citizens’ real needs! We call on all citizens to exercise their democratic right and cast their vote on 7 October.”
Usually, the Republika Srpska tradition ‘dictates’ that after one poll is over, the process of the next one begins thus, the feeling of being in a permanent pre-election mode is dominant and known among locals.
RS’s opposition coalition Alliance for Victory (formerly Alliance for changes) decided to begin with their campaign from the Banja Luka “Bosna” hotel, on Friday at 06:19 a.m. Candidates thought this wise, since the actual hour, the time that the sun rises, would practically embody their motto: “It is dawn time!”.
Ruling RS coalition, gathered around the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), chose a traditional beginning for their own campaign. Like in every election, leaders and candidates gathered in downtown Banja Luka and put election posters up on the billboards.
At present, the situation in the Federation of BiH is clearer. Parties’ positions coalesce in the past election campaigns so, no one expects great surprises or irregularities in this entity. Citizens will vote for the party they prefer and that is that, whereas the atmosphere in RS is fraught with problems…. / IBNA