Bosnian Challenges

If I was wrong in my predictions for the Austrian elections, it looks as if I was somewhat less unsuccesful in the Bosnian case.

With preliminary results in, we see a significant shift among both the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Serb voters.

The old and traditional nationalist parties – SDA and SDS, respectively – have been outflanked and defeated by forces using more of nationalist rhetoric, although a general desire for change has in all probability also played a role.

The Bosnian Muslim seat in the Presidency will now be taken by Haris Silajdzic and the Bosnian Serb one by Nebojsa Radmanovic.

The former wants to abolish Republika Srpska, while the latter comes from a party that has recently started to toy with the idea of abolishing Bosnia. Eleven years after Dayton, that’s not too encouraging a result.

But while things do look bad on paper I don’t think there is any cause for alarm. And I would strongly caution against any thought of outside political intervention of the one sort or the other.

At the end of the day these gentlemen will have to find their own compromises if they want to live together. And with all of Europe – including, slowly and somewhat reluctantly even the Balkans – coming together they know that they haven’t got much of a choice.

So Bosnia is to be congratulated to a well run and democratic election. That’s good.

And then it is to be wished well in its attempts to live with the result.

That’s democracy. Sometimes a messy thing – but always better than the alternatives.

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