Nationalists from Bosnia’s three main ethnic groups will take power in the country’s three-way presidency and look set to take control of other institutions.
The results of Sunday’s elections based on 90 percent of votes counted, show the divisions left by the civil war of the early nineties are starkly visible.
The re-elected Bosniak leader Bakir Izetbegovic talked on Monday of a potential new coalition to break the deadlock over reforms, move towards EU and NATO integration and fight corruption and crime.
The elected Croat Dragan Covic wants a separate Croat entity within Bosnia.
Zeljka Cvijanovic is part of a Serb bloc that wants Bosnia broken up altogether.
She is still neck-and-neck with her opponent whose party recently honoured war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic.
Observers say the winners will struggle to haul Bosnia out of its economic and social stagnation.
Unemployment stands officially at 44 percent and is even higher among young people.
At Banja Luka, the largest city in Bosnia’s Serb Republic, people want jobs above all.
“For many years we’ve had no progress, so we lost all our hope and faith, but something has to happen,” said one middle-aged man.
“I expect more jobs for young people, new factories, new companies,” added one young man, Bojan Dragisic.
Voters also been choosing national and regional parliaments in Bosnia’s multi-tiered and unwieldy system.
Turnout was reported at just over half the electorate of 3.3 million.
Dissatisfaction with political elites runs deep.
Analysts say opposition parties performed well, suggesting many want change.
The question is whether those negotiating new coalitions will take that into account.