Local elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) were held on 15 November 2020. These were the seventh local elections since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement in December 1995. Only in Mostar were the elections held at a somewhat later date, on 20 December 2020, and for the first time after twelve years. These local elections were organised and took place under complex circumstances marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic turmoil. Nevertheless, the elections brought major political changes, mainly in urban areas. Opposition politicians (in the period before and after the elections) emphasised that these elections are just an introduction to events and changes that will take place during the 2022 general elections. Similar views were voiced by political analysts and the media.
The context of the elections held on 7. October 2018 can only be fully understood by adding the complexity of a power-sharing governmental arrangement in contemporary Bosnia-Herzegovina that favours large coalitions of ethnically based political parties. While the system was envisaged originally to prevent the domination of one ethnic group over others, its practical application has been used by nationalist political elites to install themselves as overall rulers in their particular territories, which individuals and clans have been ruling as fiefdoms for over twenty years. The lack of capacity for political alternatives and their own fragmentation into a series of smaller political parties has created an overall atmosphere of disillusionment among voters who do not seem to hope for any possibility of positive change. Hence the low voter turnout of just over 53 percent.
Films produced during the last two decades in the post-Yugoslav states often deal with the subject of these states’ recent history, focusing on the war and its consequences for human beings, as well as the consequences of political and economic transition, such as an increasing wealth gap, criminality, lack of perspectives, unemployment etc. The methods of presentation and modality range from the serious to the comical and grotesque. As these films reflect in special ways people’s new situation in the new post-Yugoslav countries, questions of self-image, understanding of oneself and of the cruel experiences of war are of utmost importance.
In recent post-Yugoslav cinema, trope of troubled youth in films as diverse as Skinning (Stevan Filipović, 2010, Serbia), Children of Sarajevo (Aida Begić, 2012, Bosnia-Herzegovina), Spots (Aldo Tardozzi, 2011, Croatia) and Quit Staring at My Plate (Hana Jušić, 2017) allows for an inspection of the links between youth rebellion, post-conflict trauma and social class. These cinematic depictions of youth-in-crisis, which I refer to as transitional films, offer insights into locally produced ethno-national identities as challenged by the proliferating transnational networks of connectivity. In this essay, I highlight one provocative example of transitional film – Clip (Maja Miloš, 2012, Serbia).
The build-up of nationalism in Yugoslavia and its successor states was accompanied by a seismic shift in public discourse, as the national political elites mobilised the rhetoric of Othering in order to distinguish their respective nations from ‘the Balkans’, to construct and reinforce a new national identity, and to endorse European integration. This paper investigates how the discourses of Balkanism and Othering functioned in international relations by examining how the Balkans were represented in the foreign policy articulations of Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during and after the Yugoslav conflicts. By analysing speeches delivered at the UN General Assembly between 1993 and 2003, this paper investigates how Southeast European states constructed their identities on the international stage and capitalised on “Balkan” identity for foreign policy objectives.
Local elections for municipal and city councils and municipal and city mayors were held in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) on 2. October 2016. These were the sixth local elections since the Dayton Peace Agreement. There was generally not much expectation for significant change in BiH politics, and the elections were seen as a test on to what extent the major political parties are familiar with citizens’ concerns, especially at the local level. A change in the Electoral Law a few months ahead of the elections had increased the importance of party structures and party leaders in determining the allocation of seats among candidates from party lists, while decreasing the influence of voters. Coupled with an electoral system that favors small parties, this could potentially result in further fragmentation of the party system.
In this paper, I introduce a novel concept, the one of power sharing courts. Scholars of judicial politics look at the reasons behind judicial selection and the patterns of decision making within courts through the lens of ideology (left-right). However, the resulting fertile scholarly analysis has not been extended to divided societies, where the main cleavages are not partisan but ethno-national. In these societies, the liberal model of selecting judges and taking decisions within an apex court is often corrected to specifically include politically salient ascriptive cleavages (such as ethnicity/nationality/language/religion). The main thrust of my argument is that there is a model of selecting judges, taking decisions and sharing posts of influence within apex courts in divided societies that has not yet been conceptually captured: power sharing courts.
Despite various attempts, the memory of persons who helped and rescued endangered persons “from the other side” during the breakup wars of Yugoslavia is rarely publicly acknowledged. There is, nevertheless, one exception: the case of Srđan Aleksić, a young Bosnian Serb who was killed while saving a Muslim acquaintance in Trebinje in January 1993. Since 2007, Srđan Aleksić has not only become publicly known, but his memory is also widely positively connoted in different countries and by groups of various political and ethnic backgrounds in the post-Yugoslav space. This article analyzes the emergence of this memory and the narratives around it, how fragile or strong the consensus which has emerged around his memory is, and what this memorialization indicates about the current memory culture in post-Yugoslav countries and its evolutions.
This conclusion poses a number of questions related to policy issues and the censuses in the post-Yugoslav states. It is argued that censuses are always more than just a technical counting exercise. Census discussions in Western Europe tend to focus on regional funding, infrastructure support and long-term policy planning, and can be as contested and heated as questions over identity, religion and mother tongue in the post-Yugoslav states. However, identity-related questions in an area in which identity is still in flux and in which fundamental demographic changes have taken place recently, prevent any focus on more policy-oriented discussions.
Bosnia and Herzegovina held its first post-war census in autumn 2013, over two decades after the final 1991 Yugoslav census, following a war that displaced nearly half of the population, and killed approximately 100,000 people. The long delay was related to several reasons including the post-war reconstruction, the efforts to either support or obstruct the return of persons to their pre-war homes as guaranteed in the Dayton peace agreement, and pervasive ethno-political agendas. Such agendas were often based on the practical reality of who, from what constituent group, lives where. As of August 2015, the results have not been released. This article therefore reviews BiH’s experience in the recent census, and poses a number of policy relevant questions about how the data could be used.