Bosnia: Kick Boxers, Rappers, Reality Stars Run In Elections


By Rodolfo Toe

Some unusual candidates, including folk singers and convicted war criminals are running in Bosnia’s local elections, which take place on October 2.

Folk singers, reality show stars, kick boxers, former football players and convicted war criminals will be running alongside more traditional candidates during Bosnia’s local elections, which take place on October 2.

Dzevad Poturak, a kick boxer known as the “BH Machine”, is running for the city council in Ilidza, a municipality west of the capital, Sarajevo, for the Alliance for a Better Future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, SBBBiH.

“This is only one of my many battles … nothing is easy but I have always been responsible and fair and I will continue this way, with the people for a better Ilidza!”, Poturak wrote on his Facebook profile when announcing his candidacy.

Another kick boxer, Denis Stojnic, is running for the Democratic Front, DF, for a post on the council of Sarajevo’s Old Town [Stari Grad] municipality, media reported.

They are not the only celebrities to join a political list for the local elections.

Sarajevo-born rapper Jasmin Fazlic, better known as “Jala Brat”, will run for a seat on the municipal council of Vogosca, a municipality on the outskirts of Sarajevo, for the Party of Democratic Action, SDA.

The 29-year-old is known, among other things, for having co-authored Bosnia’s entry for the 2016 Eurovision contest, but has no experience in politics.

Jala explained his decision to the media, arguing that his popularity as a singer gives him a responsibility to his public.

“I have spent my whole life criticising the system … and now somebody has given me the opportunity to show what I can do,” he told the Sarajevo-based website Klix, stressing that he is not “a clown in the political circus”.

Other unusual candidates include Tarik Mulaomerovic, who became popular after taking part in the regional talent show “X Factor Adria” in 2015 and who will run for the City Council of Stari Grad for the DF ; two former players of the Sarajevo-based football Zeljeznicar club, Bulend Biscevic and Nedo Turkovic; folk singer Mirsad Comaga and actor Almir Kurt, TV N1 reported.

The phenomenon of candidates traditionally unconnected to politics running for office in Bosnia has become routine in recent elections, Sarajevo-based political analyst Ivana Maric told BIRN. She compared the practice to commercials and marketing.

“When somebody is successful, people tend to trust them … it is a practice that benefits the political parties, which can have some famous names on their electoral lists, people that everybody knows,” Maric explained.

She noted that in several cases, as with the Prime Minister of Sarajevo Canton, Elvedin Konakovic, a former basketball player, such candidates can gain important positions.

While some of these candidates meet an ironic response from most voters, others – like Fikret Abdic, running to be mayor of the western town of Velika Kladusa – have angered public opinion.

In 2005 the Croatian Supreme Court jailed Abdic for 15 years for war crimes. After his release in 2012 he announced his decision to run as mayor of Velika Kladusa at the end of June. Bosnian electoral law does not prevent people with war-crime convictions from running in elections.
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The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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