Bosnia: Infighting Brings Down Ruling Coalition


By Srecko Latal

After months of bickering and blockades, the coalition ruling at Bosnia’s state level and in the Federation entity has broken up.

Bosnia’s second-strongest Bosniak [Bosnian Muslim] national party, the Alliance for Better Future, SBB, on Friday announced the breakup of its coalition with the main Bosniak party in the country, the Party of Democratic Action, SDA.

After months of deadlock, bickering and media mud-slinging, which in various ways involved all of the main political parties, this SBB announcement marked the official end of the coalition that has held power in Bosnia’s Federation entity as well as at the state level.

Increasingly venomous exchanges between the SBB and SDA leaders, Fahrudic Radoncic and Bakir Izetbegovic, in which they accused each other of various criminal acts and blunders, reopened their old personal animosities.

It created a situation in which it was only a matter of time before one or other leader would end the failing marriage.

“The coalition between the SBB and [SDA leader Bakir] Izetbegovic broke apart because of his [Izetbegovic’s] lying to everyone,” the SBB said in an angry statement on Friday.

Since the 2014 general elections, the SDA and the SBB, together with the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, had ruled Bosnia’s Federation entity and held power most of the entity’s ten subdivisions, known as cantons.

A similar coalition, but including a bloc of Bosnian Serb opposition parties, the Alliance for Change, also ruled at the state level.

This latest development adds to Bosnia’s political uncertainty and opens the door for further tensions.

However, it is unclear whether the official collapse of the ruling coalition will bring about any immediate major changes, as the coalition was effectively already blocked by political infighting, which has raged on for almost a year.

Some parties have in the past weeks indicated that by the end of July they might initiate a no-confidence vote in the state government, the Council of Ministers.

However, even if this takes place, it is uncertain whether there will be enough votes in the state parliament to actually topple the government.

The situation in the Federation entity is similar, although there are no signs of any of the main parties intending to officially topple that government.

Moreover, even if the current state government and – or – Federation government falls, it seems unlikely that any party will be able to assemble a new ruling coalition at either state or entity level, until the next general election, due in October 2018.

This situation – and the fact that Bosnia lacks legal mechanisms to simultaneously hold early elections at all administrative levels – suggests that governments will continue to rule at state level and in the Federation without a parliamentary majority, or with technical mandates, until the end of next year.

Balkan Insight

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.

One thought on “Bosnia: Infighting Brings Down Ruling Coalition

  • July 24, 2017 at 11:09 am

    This type of situation usually opens the door for more extreme parties to enter the political picture. People vote for these extremists in frustration against the more centrist parties, and the centrist parties end up relying on their votes to pass legislation. We are seeing this process in Macedonia and to a slower extent in Romania. Brian Ghilliotti


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