The policy in Bosnia-Herzegovina is
characterized by a locked position between different
nationalist camps. The design of the political system
means that coalition governments must always be formed,
between parties that are far apart. The result will be
lengthy negotiations - only a year after the October
2018 election could a head of government be appointed.
The main obstacle in the attempts to form a national
government has been contradictions regarding Bosnia's
relationship with NATO (see Foreign Policy and Defense).
It was not until mid-November 2019 that President Zoran
Tegeltija nominated Serbian Prime Minister, or Chairman
of the Council of Ministers, the formal title. This took
place following strong pressure from the EU, individual
EU countries and the US. In early December he was
approved by Parliament.
Country facts and history of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
In the settlement reached, Bosnian Serb leader
Milorad Dodik (who is also a member of the presidential
council, see below) agreed to a continued adjustment to
NATO demands in exchange for Tegeltija becoming head of
government. Tegeltija is a member of Dodik's party, the
Alliance of the Serbian Nationalist Independent Social
The three-headed presidency, on the other hand, could
take office just over a month after the 2018 elections.
The Bosniak's seat in the presidency is held by Šefik
Džaferović while the Croats are represented by Željko
Komšić. The three take turns as "serving head of state"
(see Political system).
But ethnicity is a key part of the electoral system's
design, also in the case of parliaments both at national
level and in the Bosnian-Croat Federation. It
contributes to the fact that strongly conflicting
interests must try to unite - which often results in
political deadlock. In the Republic of Srpska, where the
Serbs dominate completely, the same lock does not occur.
After the 2010 election, it took 15 months for a
national government to be formed (see Modern History).
The contradictions that then stood in the way remain. In
addition, there were reports of extensive manipulation
of voting lengths before the election.
Another complication consisted in the fact that the
Constitutional Court had already annulled an election
law, which made it impossible to fill the seats in the
Federation upper house - and thus not in the national
upper house (see Political system). Following strong
international pressure, the Election Commission resolved
this in December, and after the Constitutional Court
approved the new rules in February 2019, the
Federation's upper house could be formed.
Not long after, the representatives of the three
largest parties said they were close to agreeing on a
government formation, but then nothing happened for
several more months. The three parties do not have their
own majority - a total of 14 parties share the 42 seats
in the national parliament. In addition, the three major
groups represent their own group: the Democratic Party (SDA)
is Bosnian, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats
(SNSD) is Serbian and the Croatian Democratic Union
Bosnia and Herzegovina (HDZ BiH) is Croatian.
The fact that the high official appointed by the
outside world always has the last word means that the
Bosnian politicians do not have to take responsibility
for their decisions - or lack of decisions. It may be
contributing to the death toll.
Even after the October 2014 elections, government
formation became a complicated story. Although five
parties already agreed in December to form a government,
it was delayed until the last March 2015, the very last
date that had been set up, before the allocation of
ministerial posts was complete and the government could
take office. Denis Zvizdić from the SDA became the new
prime minister in a government that also included HDZ
BiH, the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), the similarly
Serbian-dominated Democratic Progress Party (PDP) and
the multi-ethnic Democratic Front (DF).
However, the largest Serbian party SNSD boycotted the
national parliament, calling the new government
"illegal". However, the SNSD continued to lead the
government coalition in the Republika Srpska, where
Milorad Dodik was re-elected president.
Nationalist rhetoric and ethnic tensions also
continued to increase. In 2015, reports of incitement
and calls for violence were reported in social media.
Several cases of assaults and beatings occurred, as did
a couple of acts of violence with the fatal outcome of
As before, SNSD leader Milorad Dodik questioned the
legitimacy of the state itself. In 2015, he again raised
the idea of a referendum on the state judiciary (as in
2011, see Modern History), which he claimed was partial
to the Serbs' disadvantage. Many saw it as a test
balloon ahead of a referendum he promised in 2017 to
completely break out the Republic of Srpska from Bosnia.
Dodik again turned the issue around, but in 2016 he
instead ran a referendum to make January 9 a "national
day" in Republika Srpska. The referendum was held
despite sharp warnings from the High Representative and
despite the Bosnian Constitutional Court's ruling that
such a national day would mean discrimination against
non-Serbs. The date is partly an Orthodox celebration
and partly the day when the Bosnian Serbs proclaimed
their own republic in 1992. A full 99.8 percent of the
voters who participated supported the proposal.
Bosniak's representative in the presidency, Bakir
Izetbegović, warned that Dodik was playing with the
fire. However, from Bosnia and Croatia, Dodik had some
support, as they largely want to see a more independent
role for the Croats in Bosnia.
January 9, 2017 was a public holiday in the Republic
of Srpska and the Bosnian Serbs thus showed that they
attached no great importance to either the
Constitutional Court's decision or the world views. As a
result, the US imposed sanctions on Dodik, so he was
considered a threat to the 1995 peace treaty.
Milorad Dodik was elected, in the fall of 2018, to
the National Council of Presidents (see above). Shortly
before taking office as Bosnian President, Dodik
reiterated demands that parts of the Dayton Agreement be
torn down. Among other things, he demands that the High
Representative be abolished. He also wants the three
foreign judges included in the Constitutional Court to
Follow the ongoing development of the Calendar.
READING TIP - Read more about Bosnia
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Others stand ready if EU does not integrate the
Western Balkans (2017-11-24)
FACTS - POLITICS
Bosnia and Herzegovina / Bosnia and Herzegovina
republic, federal state
Head of State
Milorad Dodik / Šefik Džaferović / Željko Komšić
Head of government
Zoran Tegeltija (2019–) 2
Most important parties with mandates in the
Democratic Party (SDA) 9, Independent Social
Democrats Alliance (SNSD) 6, Croatian Democratic Union
in Bosnia and Herzegovina with Allies (HDZ BiH) 5,
Bosnia-Herzegovina Social Democratic Party (SDP BiH) 5,
Democratic Front with Allied (DF) 3, Serbian Democratic
Party with allies (SDS) 3, other 11 (2018)
Main parties with mandates in the second most
Democratic Party (SDA) 10, Independent Social
Democrats Alliance (SNSD) 6, Democratic Front (DF) 5,
Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) 5, Alliance for a Better
Future (SBB) 4, Croatian Democratic Union in Bosnia and
Herzegovina with allies (HDZ BiH) 4, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Social Democratic Party (SDP BiH) 3, other 6 (2014)
54% in parliamentary and presidential elections 2018
- constitutes three-
chaired presidential council, changes every
eight months 2. formal title is chair of the Council