Politics of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Politics of Bosnia and Herzegovina takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament.The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.The system of government established by the Dayton Accord is an example of consociationalism, as representation is by elites who represent the countries three major groups, with each having a guaranteed share of power. Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided into two "Entities" - the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska, as well as the district of Brčko. Each of the Entities has its own constitution.:"See Political divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina"

Dayton Agreement

Due to the Dayton Agreement, signed 14 December 1995, Bosnia and Herzogovina forms an international protectorate, with decisive power given to the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina. It retained Bosnia's exterior border and created a joint multi-ethnic and democratic government. This national government - based on proportional representation similar to that which existed in the former socialist regime - is charged with conducting foreign, economic, and fiscal policy.

The Dayton Agreement established the Office of the High Representative (OHR) to oversee the implementation of the civilian aspects of the agreement. About 250 international and 450 local staff members are employed by the OHR.

High Representative

The highest political authority in the country is the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the chief executive officer for the international civilian presence in the country. Since 1995, the High Representative was able to bypass the elected parliamentary assembly or to remove elected officials. The methods selected by the High Representative are often seen as dictatorship. Even the symbols of Bosnian statehood (flag, coat of arms) have been chosen by the Highest Representative rather than by Bosnian people. The source of the authority of the High Representative is essentially contractual. His mandate derives from the Dayton Agreement, as confirmed by the Peace Implementation Council, an ad hoc body with a Steering Board composed of representatives of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK, the US, the presidency of the European Union, the European Commission, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Executive branch

The Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina rotates among three members (Bosniak, Serb, Croat), each elected as the Chair for an 8-month term within their 4-year term as a member. The three members of the Presidency are elected directly by the people (Federation votes for the Bosniak/Croat, Republika Srpska for the Serb). The Presidency is the head of state institution and it is mainly responsible for the foreign policy and proposing the budget.

The Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina is nominated by the Presidency and approved by the House of Representatives. He is then responsible for appointing a Foreign Minister, Minister of Foreign Trade, and others as appropriate.

The Council is responsible for carrying out various policies and decisions in the fields of diplomacy, economy, inter-Entity relations and other matters as agreed by the Entities.

Each of the Entities has its own Council of Ministers, which deal with internal matters not dealt with by the state Council.

Principal Government Officials

High Representative
Miroslav Lajčák|
30 June 2007
rowspan=3|Members of the Presidency
Željko Komšić (Croat)
6 November 2006
Haris Silajdžić (Bosniak)
6 November 2006
Nebojša Radmanović (Serb)
6 November 2006
Chairman of the Council of Ministers
Nikola Špirić (Serb)
1 November 2007
President of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Borjana Krišto (Croat)
22 February 2007
Mirsad Kebo (Bosniak)
22 February 2007
Spomenka Mičić (Serb)
22 February 2007
Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Nedžad Branković (Bosniak)
30 March 2007
President of the Republic Srpska
Rajko Kuzmanović (Serb)
9 November 2006
Adil Osmanović (Bosniak)
Davor Čordaš (Croat)
Prime minister of the Republic Srpska
Milorad Dodik (Serb)
28 February 2006
International supervisor of Brčko
Raffi Gregorian|
1 October 2006
Mayor of Brčko
Mirsad Đapo (Bosniak)
8 December 2004


Past international high representatives: Carl Bildt, Carlos Westendorp, Wolfgang Petritsch, Paddy Ashdown, Christian Schwarz-Schilling.

Members of the Presidency who stepped down under pressure from the Office of the High Representative: Mirko Šarović, Ante Jelavić, Dragan Čović. Alija Izetbegović also withdrew from the Presidency.

In February 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the structure of the Council of Ministers was unconstitutional; a new structure is being negotiated.

Federation president and vice-president in 1999: Ejup Ganićand Ivo Andrić-Lužanski.

Past RS presidents: Radovan Karadžić, Biljana Plavšić, Nikola Poplašen, Mirko Šarović, Dragan Čavić, Milan Jelić.

RS president Nikola Poplašen was removed by the OHR on 5 March 1999.

Legislative branch

The Parliamentary Assembly or "Parliamentarna skupština" is the main legislative body in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It consists of two chambers:

* the House of Peoples or "Dom naroda"
* the National House of Representatives or "Predstavnički dom/Zastupnički dom"

The Parliamentary Assembly is responsible for:

* enacting legislation as necessary to implement decisions of the Presidency or to carry out the responsibilities of the Assembly under the Constitution.
* deciding upon the sources and amounts of revenues for the operations of the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and international obligations of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
* approving the budget for the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
* deciding ratify treaties and agreements.
* other matters as are necessary to carry out its duties of as are assigned to it by mutual agreement of the Entities.

Bosnia and Herzegovina did not have a permanent election law until 2001, during which time a draft law specified four-year terms for the state and first-order administrative division entity legislatures. The final election law was passed and publicized on September 9, 2001.

House of Peoples

The House of Peoples includes 15 delegates who serve two-year terms. Two-thirds of them come from the Federation (5 Croats and 5 Bosniaks) and one-third from the RS (5 Serbs). Nine members of the House of Peoples constitutes a quorum, provided that at least three delegates from each group are present. Federation representatives are selected by the House of Peoples of the Federation, which has 58 seats (17 Bosniak, 17 Croat, 17 Serb, 7 others) and whose members are delegated by cantonal assemblies to serve 4-year terms. RS representatives are selected by the 28-member Republika Srpska Council of Peoples which was established in the Republika Srpska National Assembly; each constituent nation has eight delegates, "others" have four delegates.

House of Representatives

The House of Representatives comprises 42 Members, two-thirds elected to serve four-year terms from the Federation (14 Croats and 14 Bosniaks) and one-third elected from the RS (14 Serbs). Federation members come from the Federation House of Representatives with 98 seats whose members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. RS members come from the RS National Assembly, which has 83 seats and whose members are elected by popular vote to serve 4-year terms.

Political parties and elections

Election history

National House of Representatives:
* elections held 12-13 September 1998:
** seats by party/coalition - KCD 17, HDZ-BiH 6, SDP-BiH 6, Sloga 4, SDS 4, SRS-RS 2, DNZ 1, NHI 1, RSRS 1
* elections held 5 October 2002:
** percent of vote by party/coalition - SDA 21.9%, SDS 14.0%, SBiH 10.5%, SDP 10.4%, SNSD 9.8%, HDZ 9.5%, PDP 4.6%, others 19.3%
** seats by party/coalition - SDA 10, SDS 5, SBiH 6, SDP 4, SNSD 3, HDZ 5, PDP 2, others 7

House of Peoples:
* constituted 4 December 1998
* constituted in fall 2000
* constituted in January 2003
* next to be constituted in 2007

Federation House of Representatives:
* elections held fall 1998:
** seats by party/coalition - KCD 68, HDZ-BiH 28, SDP-BiH 25, NHI 4, DNZ 3, DSP 2, BPS 2, HSP 2, SPRS 2, BSP 1, KC 1, BOSS 1, HSS 1
* elections held 5 October 2002:
** seats by party/coalition - SDA 32, HDZ-BiH 16, SDP 15, SBiH 15, other 20

Federation House of Peoples:
* constituted November 1998
* constituted December 2002

Republika Srpska National Assembly:
* elections held fall 1998
** seats by party/coalition - SDS 19, KCD 15, SNS 12, SRS-RS 11, SPRS 10, SNSD 6, RSRS 3, SKRS 2, SDP 2, KKO 1, HDZ-BiH 1, NHI 1
* elections held fall 2000
* elections held 5 October 2002
** seats by party/coalition - SDS 26, SNSD 19, PDP 9, SDA 6, SRS 4, SPRS 3, DNZ 3, SBiH 4, SDP 3, others 6

Judicial branch

Constitutional Court

The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the supreme, final arbiter of legal matters. It is composed of nine members: four members are selected by the House of Representatives of the Federation, two by the Assembly of the RS, and three by the President of the European Court of Human Rights after consultation with the Presidency.

Terms of initial appointees are 5 years, unless they resign or are removed for cause by consensus of the other judges. Once appointed, judges are not eligible for reappointment. Judges subsequently appointed will serve until the age of 70, unless they resign or are removed for cause. Appointments made 5 years after the initial appointments may be governed by a different law of selection, to be determined by the Parliamentary Assembly.

Proceedings of the Court are public, and decisions will be published. Rules of court are adopted by a majority of the Court, and decisions are final and binding.

The Constitutional Court's original jurisdiction lies in deciding any constitutional dispute that arises between the Entities or between Bosnia and Herzegovina and an Entity or Entities. Such disputes may be referred only by a member of the Presidency, by the Chair of the Council of Ministers, by the Chair or Deputy Chair of either chamber of the Parliamentary Assembly, or by one-fourth of the legislature of either Entity.

The Court also has appellate jurisdiction within the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

State Court

The State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of three divisions - Administrative, Appellate and Criminal - having jurisdiction over cases related to state-level law and appellate jurisdiction over cases initiated in the entities.

A War Crimes Chamber was added in January 2005, and has currently adopted two cases transferred from the ICTY, as well as dozens of war crimes cases initiated in cantonal courts.

The State Court also deals with organized crime, economic crime and corruption cases. For example, former Presidency member Dragan Ćović is currently on trial for involvement in organized crime syndicates.

Human Rights Chamber

The Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina ("Dom za ljudska prava za Bosnu i Hercegovinu") has displayed activity between March 1996 and 31 December 2003. It was a judicial body established under Annex 6 to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Dayton Peace Agreement).


The entities each have a Supreme Court. Each entity also has a number of lower courts. There are 10 cantonal courts in the Federation, plus a number of municipal courts. The Republika Srpska has five municipal courts.

See also

*Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina

External links

* [http://www.ohr.int/ Office of the High Representative]
* [http://www.izbori.ba/ Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina]
* [http://www.vladars.net/ Government of the Republic of Srpska]
* [http://www.fbihvlada.gov.ba/ Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina]
* [http://www.brcko.ba/ Government of the Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina]
* [http://www.bosnia.org.uk/news/news_body.cfm?newsid=2202 Bosnia: a single country or an apple of discord?] , Bosnian Institute, 12 May 2006
* [http://www.law.nyu.edu/eecr/vol7num2/special/bosnia.html Bosnia: The Contradictions of “Democracy” without Consent] , East European Constitutional Review, [New York University Law School] , 1998

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