Politics of Bosnia and Herzegovina

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Politics of Bosnia and Herzegovina takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. Members of the parliament are chosen according to a proportional representation system.[1]

The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The system of government established by the Dayton Accord is an example of consociationalism, as representation is by elites who represent the country's three major groups, with each having a guaranteed share of power.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided into two Entities - the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska, which each have largely autonomous political power, as well as the district of Brčko, which is jointly administered by both. Each of the Entities has its own constitution.

See Political divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Dayton Agreement[edit]

Due to the Dayton Agreement, signed 14 December 1995, Bosnia and Herzegovina forms an international protectorate, with decisive power given to the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina. It retained Bosnia's exterior border and created a joint multi-ethnic and democratic government. This national government - based on proportional representation similar to that which existed in the former socialist régime - is charged with conducting foreign, economic, and fiscal policy.

The Dayton Agreement established the Office of the High Representative (OHR) to oversee the implementation of the civilian aspects of the agreement. About 250 international and 450 local staff members are employed by the OHR.

High Representative[edit]

The highest political authority in the country is the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the chief executive officer for the international civilian presence in the country. Since 1995, the High Representative has been able to bypass the elected parliamentary assembly or to remove elected officials. The methods selected by the High Representative are often seen as dictatorship.[2][3] Even the symbols of Bosnian statehood (flag, coat of arms) have been chosen by the Highest Representative rather than by the Bosnian people. The source of the authority of the High Representative is essentially contractual. His mandate derives from the Dayton Agreement, as confirmed by the Peace Implementation Council, an ad hoc body with a Steering Board composed of representatives of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK, the United States, the presidency of the European Union, the European Commission, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Executive branch[edit]

The Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina rotates among three members (Bosniak, Serb, Croat), each elected for a rotating 8-month term within their 4-year term as a presidency members. The three members of the Presidency are elected directly by the people with Federation voters electing both the Bosniak and the Croat, and Republika Srpska voters electing the Serb. The Presidency is the head of state and it is mainly responsible for the foreign policy and proposing the budget.

The Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina is nominated by the Presidency and approved by the House of Representatives. He is then responsible for appointing a Foreign Minister, Minister of Foreign Trade, and other ministers as appropriate.

The Council is responsible for carrying out various policies and decisions in the fields of diplomacy, economy, inter-Entity relations and other matters as agreed by the Entities.

Each of the Entities has its own Council of Ministers, which deal with internal matters not dealt with by the state Council.

Principal Government Officials[edit]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
High Representative Valentin Inzko 26 March 2009
Members of the Presidency Bakir Izetbegović (Chair) Party of Democratic Action 4 October 2010
Nebojša Radmanović Alliance of Independent Social Democrats 6 November 2006
Željko Komšić Democratic Front 6 November 2006
Prime Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda Croatian Democratic Union 12 January 2012

History[edit]

Past international high representatives: Carl Bildt, Carlos Westendorp, Wolfgang Petritsch, Paddy Ashdown, Christian Schwarz-Schilling, Miroslav Lajčák.

Members of the Presidency who stepped down under pressure from the Office of the High Representative: Mirko Šarović, Ante Jelavić, Dragan Čović. Alija Izetbegović also withdrew from the Presidency.

In February 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the structure of the Council of Ministers was unconstitutional; a new structure is being negotiated.

Federation president and vice-president in 1999: Ejup Ganić and Ivo Andrić-Lužanski.

Past RS presidents: Radovan Karadžić, Biljana Plavšić, Nikola Poplašen, Mirko Šarović, Dragan Čavić, Milan Jelić.

RS president Nikola Poplašen was removed by the OHR on 5 March 1999.

Legislative branch[edit]

The Parliamentary Assembly or Parliamentarna skupština is the main legislative body in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It consists of two chambers:

The Parliamentary Assembly is responsible for:

  • enacting legislation as necessary to implement decisions of the Presidency or to carry out the responsibilities of the Assembly under the Constitution.
  • deciding upon the sources and amounts of revenues for the operations of the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and international obligations of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • approving the budget for the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • deciding ratify treaties and agreements.
  • other matters as are necessary to carry out its duties of as are assigned to it by mutual agreement of the Entities.

Bosnia and Herzegovina did not have a permanent election law until 2001, during which time a draft law specified four-year terms for the state and first-order administrative division entity legislatures. The final election law was passed and publicized on 9 September 2001.

House of Peoples[edit]

The House of Peoples includes 15 delegates who serve two-year terms. Two-thirds of them come from the Federation (5 Croats and 5 Bosniaks) and one-third from the RS (5 Serbs). Nine members of the House of Peoples constitutes a quorum, provided that at least three delegates from each group are present. Federation representatives are selected by the House of Peoples of the Federation, which has 58 seats (17 Bosniak, 17 Croat, 17 Serb, 7 others) and whose members are delegated by cantonal assemblies to serve 4-year terms. RS representatives are selected by the 28-member Republika Srpska Council of Peoples which was established in the Republika Srpska National Assembly; each constituent nation has eight delegates, "others" have four delegates.

House of Representatives[edit]

The House of Representatives comprises 42 members elected by the people under a system of proportional representation (PR) for a four-year term. Two-thirds of the members are elected from the Federation (14 Croats and 14 Bosniaks) and one-third elected from the RS (14 Serbs).

For the 2010 elections, Voters in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina elected twenty-one members in five multi-member constituencies by PR, while the remaining seven seats were allocated by compensatory PR. Voters in the Republika Srpska elected nine members in three multi-member constituencies by PR, while the five other seats were allocated by compensatory PR.[4]

Political parties and elections[edit]

For other political parties see List of political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
e • d Summary of the 3 October 2010 Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidium election results
Candidates Nominating parties Federation of
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Republika Srpska
Votes Bosniak
list %
Croat
list %
Votes Serb
list %
Željko Komšić (Croat) SDP BiH 336,961 60.6%
Borjana Krišto (Croat) HDZ BiH 109,714 19.7%
Martin Raguž (Croat) Croatian Coalition (HDZ 1990, HSP BiH) 60,234 10.8%
Jerko Ivanković-Lijanović (Croat) NSRB 45,382 8.2%
Pero Galić (Croat) 1,579 0.3%
Mile Kutle (Croat) 1,069 0.2%
Ferdo Galić (Croat) 972 0.2%
Bakir Izetbegović (Bosniak) SDA 162,797 34.9%
Fahrudin Radončić (Bosniak) SBB BiH 142,359 30.5%
Haris Silajdžić (Bosniak) SBiH 117,168 25.1% :
Ibrahim Đedović (Bosniak) DNZ BiH 13,366 2.9%
Mujo Demirović (Bosniak) BPS 8,946 1.9%
Ðemal Latić (Bosniak) A-SDA 8,738 1.9%
Ibrahim Spahić (Bosniak) Civic Democratic Party 6,947 1.5%
Izudin Kešetović (Bosniak) BOSS 4,227 0.9%
Aida Jusić (Bosniak) 2,347 0.5%
Nebojša Radmanović (Serb) SNSD 295,624 48.9%
Mladen Ivanić (Serb) Coalition Together for Srpska 285,927 47.3%
Rajko Papović (Serb) Union for a Democratic Srpska/SDS 22,778 3.8%
Total 1,022,806 604,329
Source: Adam Carr's Election Archive, Izbori.ba


e • d Summary of the 3 October 2010 House of Representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina election results
Parties Federation of
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Republika Srpska Total votes Total +/-
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
Social Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina (SDP BiH) 265,952 26.07 8 18,406 2.96 0 284,358 8 +3
Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) 8,810 0.86 0 269,007 43.30 8 277,817 8 +1
Party of Democratic Action (SDA) 197,890 19.40 7 16,371 2.64 0 214,261 7 –2
Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) 137,843 22.19 4 137,843 4 +1
Union for a Better Future of BiH (SBB BiH) 124,076 12.16 4 6,329 2.03 0 130,405 4 +4
Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HDZ BiH) 112,067 10.99 3 2,361 0.38 0 114,428 3 0
Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina (SBiH) 73,946 7.25 2 12,640 2.03 0 86,586 2 –6
Croatian Coalition HDZ 1990-HSP BiH 49,524 4.86 2 522 0.08 0 50,046 2 0
People's Party Work for Betterment (NSRzB) 49,039 4.81 1 43,039 1 0
Party of Democratic Progress (PDP) 40,070 6.45 1 40,070 1 0
Democratic People's Alliance (DNS) 1,147 0.11 0 28,511 4.59 1 29,658 1 0
Democratic People's Community (DNZ) 14,839 1.45 1 14,839 1 0
Total 1,019,973 100.00 28 621,227 100.00 14 1,641,200 42


Election history[edit]

National House of Representatives:

  • elections held 12–13 September 1998:
    • seats by party/coalition - KCD 17, HDZ-BiH 6, SDP-BiH 6, Sloga 4, SDS 4, SRS-RS 2, DNZ 1, NHI 1, RSRS 1
  • elections held 5 October 2002:
    • percent of vote by party/coalition - SDA 21.9%, SDS 14.0%, SBiH 10.5%, SDP 10.4%, SNSD 9.8%, HDZ 9.5%, PDP 4.6%, others 19.3%
    • seats by party/coalition - SDA 10, SDS 5, SBiH 6, SDP 4, SNSD 3, HDZ 5, PDP 2, others 7

House of Peoples:

  • constituted 4 December 1998
  • constituted in fall 2000
  • constituted in January 2003
  • next to be constituted in 2007

Federation House of Representatives:

  • elections held fall 1998:
    • seats by party/coalition - KCD 68, HDZ-BiH 28, SDP-BiH 25, NHI 4, DNZ 3, DSP 2, BPS 2, HSP 2, SPRS 2, BSP 1, KC 1, BOSS 1, HSS 1
  • elections held 5 October 2002:
    • seats by party/coalition - SDA 32, HDZ-BiH 16, SDP 15, SBiH 15, other 20

Federation House of Peoples:

  • constituted November 1998
  • constituted December 2002

Republika Srpska National Assembly:

  • elections held fall 1998
    • seats by party/coalition - SDS 19, KCD 15, SNS 12, SRS-RS 11, SPRS 10, SNSD 6, RSRS 3, SKRS 2, SDP 2, KKO 1, HDZ-BiH 1, NHI 1
  • elections held fall 2000
  • elections held 5 October 2002
    • seats by party/coalition - SDS 26, SNSD 19, PDP 9, SDA 6, SRS 4, SPRS 3, DNZ 3, SBiH 4, SDP 3, others 6

Judicial branch[edit]

Constitutional Court[edit]

The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the supreme, final arbiter of legal matters. It is composed of nine members: four members are selected by the House of Representatives of the Federation, two by the Assembly of the RS, and three by the President of the European Court of Human Rights after consultation with the Presidency.

Terms of initial appointees are 5 years, unless they resign or are removed for cause by consensus of the other judges. Once appointed, judges are not eligible for reappointment. Judges subsequently appointed will serve until the age of 70, unless they resign or are removed for cause. Appointments made 5 years after the initial appointments may be governed by a different law of selection, to be determined by the Parliamentary Assembly.

Proceedings of the Court are public, and decisions will be published. Rules of court are adopted by a majority of the Court, and decisions are final and binding.

The Constitutional Court's original jurisdiction lies in deciding any constitutional dispute that arises between the Entities or between Bosnia and Herzegovina and an Entity or Entities. Such disputes may be referred only by a member of the Presidency, by the Chair of the Council of Ministers, by the Chair or Deputy Chair of either chamber of the Parliamentary Assembly, or by one-fourth of the legislature of either Entity.

The Court also has appellate jurisdiction within the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

State Court[edit]

The State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of three divisions - Administrative, Appellate and Criminal - having jurisdiction over cases related to state-level law and appellate jurisdiction over cases initiated in the entities.

A War Crimes Chamber was added in January 2005, and has currently adopted two cases transferred from the ICTY, as well as dozens of war crimes cases initiated in cantonal courts.

The State Court also deals with organized crime, economic crime and corruption cases. For example, former Presidency member Dragan Ćović is currently on trial for involvement in organized crime syndicates.

Human Rights Chamber[edit]

The Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina (Dom za ljudska prava za Bosnu i Hercegovinu) has displayed activity between March 1996 and 31 December 2003. It was a judicial body established under Annex 6 to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Dayton Peace Agreement).

Entities[edit]

The entities each have a Supreme Court. Each entity also has a number of lower courts. There are 10 cantonal courts in the Federation, plus a number of municipal courts. The Republika Srpska has five municipal courts.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]