Bosnia and Herzegovina elections were genuinely competitive, but legal and systemic shortcomings remain

The 7 October general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina were genuinely competitive but characterized by continuing segmentation along ethnic lines, the international observers concluded in a preliminary statement released today. Long-standing deficiencies in the legal framework remain, and recent discussions on reform were stalled by political disagreements, further eroding trust in public institutions, the observers said.

Voters were presented with a wide choice of candidates, who were able to campaign freely. The contestants, however, focused more on personal attacks and fearmongering than on providing political alternatives, the statement says. The dependence of media on political and business interests often led to biased coverage, and instances of improper efforts to influence voters in favour of incumbents were not effectively addressed, the observers said.

Dame Cheryl Gillan (United Kingdom, EC), Head of the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), said: “Yesterday’s voting was calm, and electors made their choice freely among a large number of parties and candidates. The PACE delegation regrets that, once again, the elections were held in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights concerning discrimination on the basis of ethnicity and residency. The delegation also expressed its disappointment that the election campaign remained segmented along ethnic lines.”