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Bosnia: the elections few want

Friday, October 10, 2014 - 02:29

It's now almost two decades since the end of the 1992-1995 war, but many of Bosnia's 3.3 million registered voters are disillusioned and want much-needed change. Sunday's general election looks likely to bring disappointment. David Pollard reports.

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It looks like the aftermath of the Bosnian war. In fact, it's far more recent. Floods this year caused billions of euros of damage - another blow to a country suffering 40 per cent unemployment. Amongst other problems here, there's still no street lighting. When politicians campaign, they bring their own generators. SOUNDBITE (Bosnian) OWNER OF HOUSE DESTROYED BY FLOODS, SENAHIDA KOVACEVIC: "When they come to promote their parties they bring lights and take them when they leave and we stay here in the dark. They say they're offering us light at the end of the tunnel. That's not going to happen, we all know it's just empty talk." These elections could be ones few really want. Anger over corruption and unemployment spilled over into civil unrest in February, and is still rife. Would-be voters are disillusioned and despairing of change, says independent policy analyst Kurt Bassuener. SOUNDBITE (English) INDEPENDENT POLICY ANALYST, KURT BASSUENER: "The level of public discontent is extremely high. I think we'll see that on Sunday in terms of turn-out figures. My expectation is that it'll be quite low, because a lot of people don't feel like there's anybody to vote for." At the root of its political scene, Bosnia's been governed along ethnic lines since the Dayton peace accord ended the Bosnian conflict in 1995. It split the country into two autonomous regions, the Serb Republic and the Bosniak-Croat Federation, linked via a weak central government. But many ethnic Serb politicians, in particular, would prefer secession. In the meantime, ethnic rivalry makes political and economic reform difficult to hope for - membership of the EU and NATO even harder. SOUNDBITE (English) INDEPENDENT POLICY ANALYST, KURT BASSUENER, SAYING: "The ethno-territorial structure of this country makes it inherently unstable, as long as it has that structure this country is living on borrowed time .... I don't really see any credible advocacy for an alternative, even by people who say they are advocating for change, so in terms of the results of these election, however that comes out, I don't think you're going to see any note-worthy progress, let alone transformative results out of this election." Complex it will be. Around 3.3 million registered voters are choosing officials for 518 posts in Bosnia's six layers of government, including the country's three-person rotating presidency, the national parliament, two regional parliaments and 10 cantonal assemblies.

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Bosnia: the elections few want

Friday, October 10, 2014 - 02:29