Car horns were sounded and fireworks set off by supporters of Bakir Izetbegovic as they celebrated their man’s showing in Bosnia’s tripartite presidency election.
He is one of three Nationalist candidates likely to secure the job of representing their respective ethnic groups – Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs.
Izetbegovic campaigned on the need for a strong, unified state. After 54 percent of the votes had been counted, he listed the changes he would make:
“Moving Bosnia out of this reform stagnation, a move to Euro Atlantic integration, a decisive fight against corruption and crime and most of all, to spend the utmost energy on rebuilding the economy.”
The Croat candidate is Dragan Covic. He wants the creation of a Croat entity within Bosnia.
The presidency steers foreign policy but little else. It’s an unwieldy system of power-sharing between Bosnia’s former warring sides which was set up by a 1995 US-brokered accord.
The Serb’s representative is Zeljka Cvijanovic who is part of a Serb bloc which advocates Bosnia’s dissolution.
The problem with the system is that it is costly and frequently paralyses decision-making, blocking economic development and job creation.
Few Bosnians expect to see the election bring any of the changes promised in a country which is one of the poorest in Europe with the number of those out of work running at 44 percent.