Venice Commission experts try to resolve an electoral issue in BiH

Venice Commission experts try to resolve an electoral issue in BiH

After several useless meetings about necessary changes of the BiH Election law, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina politicians, Croats and Bosniaks agreed on one thing – they are not able to solve that issue without help from third party experts. Therefore, they contacted the European Commission for Democracy through Law, known as Venice Commission, to send experts in order to provide necessary help.

As it is defined, the role of the Venice Commission is to provide legal advice to its member states and, in particular, to help states wishing to bring their legal and institutional structures into line with European standards and international experience in the fields of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. This means that Commission experts are not suggesting a solution and their role is to offer guidelines for further negotiations that will result in Election law changes in accordance with EU legal practices.

Over the past three days, the Venice Commission’s representatives held several meetings with representatives, but not leaders, of political parties and the Central Election Commission, focusing on the issue of filling the seats in the FBiH House of Peoples.

Two years ago, the BiH Constitutional Court ruled that some provisions of the Election Law are not in accordance with the BiH Constitution. The result was that two sections of the Law, which treat the matter of representation in the House of Peoples of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), were deleted. The problem is located in Federation BiH but not in the Republika Srpska that does not face similar election issues.

According to the Vice President of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) Šefik Džaferović, who participated at the meeting on Thursday morning, the number of disputable issues has narrowed down to the problem of House of Peoples and this matter should be solved at the level of political parties’ leaders and the Venice Commission’s experts. The meeting of Venetian Commission experts and party leaders is scheduled for next month.

“It would be normal if the Election Law was amended before the election process, but a possibility of doing that after the election process opens is not ruled out in BiH”, said Džaferović.

BiH Social Democrat Party (SDP BiH) representative, Zoran Mikulić, on the other hand, said the reaching of the solution was on the parliamentarians. According to him, the problem solution lies in an entity law at the FBiH level.

Democratic Front (DF) representative, Damir Bećirović, confirmed it was said during the meeting that the matter could be solved at entity level. He stressed, however, that no change should be passed contrary to the FBiH Constitution.

The electoral system in BiH is one of the most complicated in the world because three constitutive nations (Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats), along with a category of “Others” elect ten assemblies in cantons, two assemblies at entities’ level and the assembly at state level. At the same time, voters elect three members of BiH Presidency, the President of Republika Srpska and two RS vice presidents. This creates the chance for misusage and the Federation BiH House of Peoples is the most radical example. Basically, the change of the law should prevent Bosniak voters (majority) to elect Croat (minority) representatives as, the former want people loyal to Bosniaks…. / IBNA