A group of left-centre parties warned the public on Tuesday that a ruling of the Constitutional Court (CC) due on Wednesday could throw Bosnia decades back and much further away from EU membership if the court decides in favor of a Bosnian Croat party that asked for changes in how election results are implemented.
One of the top officials of the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ), Borjana Kristo, has requested the court to annul a provision regarding how the upper house of the parliament of the half of the country shared by Bosniaks and Croats, the Federation (FBiH), is filled.
Currently, at least one representative for each of Bosnia’s three ethnic groups elected in each of the ten cantons is supposed to become a member of the House of Peoples.
However, the HDZ argued that it is not fair that a canton with 30 per cent of the population belonging to one ethnic group has as many representatives in the House of Peoples as does a canton with 5 per cent.
They also requested that the 2013 population census be applied in forming the body.
However, the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended Bosnia’s war and contains the Constitution says the 1991 census is to be applied and all three ethnic groups should have one representative from each canton in the upper house.
Bosnia’s Central Election Commission is to decide on the matter, but its decision will likely follow the Constitutional Court decision.
However, the heads of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Democratic Front (DF) and the Nasa Stranka (NS, Our Party) have warned on Tuesday that deciding in favour of the HDZ request would be a “coup.”
Only the Constitution should be applied, said SDP leader Nermin Niksic, which means one representative should enter the house from each ethnic group, from each canton, if he/she was elected there.
The basis for the calculation of the number of lawmakers in the House of Peoples of the Federation entity must be the 1991 census, he insisted.
“Everything else is unconstitutional and will be subject to a criminal lawsuit against the members of the Central Election Commission,” Niksic said.
He reminded the members of the Commission that they are not sitting in that institution to “fulfill the wishes of their political mentors,” calling the whole issue not only a matter of legality but a civilisational matter.
He said the three parties, SDP, NS and DF, have a joint stance on this and will prevent such changes.
“We are determined to block all processes because we don’t want the setup and the character of this country to be changed in an illegal way,” he said.
Niksic accused the HDZ of putting pressure on foreign judges in Bosnia’s Constitutional Court through EU MPs so they rule on Wednesday in favor of the HDZ request.
“I am urging all political forces whose aim is to build a normal Bosnia and Herzegovina to unite and not allow this plan to succeed,” he said, emphasizing that the matter is very serious.
NS leader Predrag Kojovic said the three parties will launch “strategic lawsuits” with the aim to preserve the multiethnicity of the country, saying the Central Election Commission can not alone decide on matters matters of such importance.
“I cannot emphasize enough how important tomorrow’s ruling of the Constitutional Court is in designing our destiny,” he said.
“It will determine the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and will either be a setback or a step closer to the European perception of democracy standards,” he said, urging the court to find enough “wisdom and courage” to allow Bosnia to become a European country with democratic standards.