Bosnian Envoy Imposes Funding Decision For Elections

The High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina has imposed a decision to finance general elections this autumn in the country after the government set a date for the vote without allocating enough money to carry it out.

The Bosnian envoy Christian Schmidt said on June 7 that he was allocating $6.8 million to ensure the balloting is able to be held on October 2 as planned.

"It is obvious to me that the planned allocation is neither sufficient nor implementable," he said.

"I hereby order the following: The Central Election Commission will receive the sum of ($6.8 million) initially required for the preparation and organization of the elections as a special allocation. This does not exclude further allocations that may be necessary to secure the elections."

Despite the failure of politicians to agree on electoral reforms and a 2022 budget that will provide funds for the vote, the Central Election Committee on May 4 set the date for the elections, where voters will choose Croat, Serb, and Bosniak members of the tripartite presidency; lawmakers in the parliament of the Bosniak and Croat federation, as well as the Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska; and leaders for 10 cantons.

"I have to say that I am not happy that I had to make this decision. I am taking into account a lot of commitment of people in the [Bosnia] Parliament and in other places to make the elections happen," Schmidt said.

"I have to say, it is not good. I am not happy, because it shows that responsible politicians are not in a position to organize what is in itself a procedural matter -- the financing of the elections."

Croat nationalists have been seeking reforms to the electoral law to bolster their representation after complaining for years that they don't have their own entity in the country.

The prescribed Croat member of Bosnia's ethnically tripartite presidency has been elected in each of the past two polls on the strength of votes from the Bosniak majority, without the backing of the largest ethnic Croat party, the Bosnian Croat Democratic Union, or its leader, Dragan Covic.

Bosniaks have staunchly resisted calls for the formation of a Croat-majority district, prompting Covic and his party to abandon cooperation with their Bosniak counterparts in many forums.

Fears of a messy dissolution of Bosnia, which is still governed under the terms of a 1995 peace treaty known as the Dayton Accords that divides the country into a Bosniak and Croat federation and a majority-Serb entity, have intensified in recent months.

Bosnian Serbs have threatened secession, while Croats have said they could boycott the elections if their grievances aren't addressed through reforms.