As citizens in Bosnia-Herzegovina are gearing up to head to the polls on October 7, Euronews asked young people for their views on this pivotal election.
The parliamentary and presidential election is just days away, with the ethnically divisive rhetoric dominating the lead-up.
Why is the election so divisive?
The core issues addressed within debates and campaigns originate largely from the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. The Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat presidential candidates clash, with each looking for greater autonomy and eventual separation of their respective ethnically dominated regions. In contrast, the only Social Democratic Party candidate has made economic issues central to his election campaign.
The break-up of the Yugoslav state triggered the conflict. The Dayton peace accord was signed in 1995, signalling the end of the war which claimed the lives of 100,000 people. The agreement saw the creation of arguably the most complex parliamentary and presidential system in Europe in order to piece together deep ethnic divisions.
Two autonomous governmental systems were set up along ethnic lines: Serb-dominated Republika Srpska and Bosniak-Croat Federation. The two governing entities are linked through a weak central government and complex tripartite inter-ethnic presidents.
Why are young voices crucial in this election?
Bosnia-Herzegovina was crippled economically post-war and is one of the poorest nations in Europe. The divisiveness of the government among other issues has seen their application for EU membership denied. In February this year, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said: “When there are differences, it leads to paralysis, it leads to delays.”
Unemployment rates in the nation hover around 25% with youth employment above 60% according to the United Nations. Many are looking for a solution to poverty rather than a continuation of ethnic divisiveness. The video shows young people who are frustrated with nationalism while others are left weary, wondering whether their vote can change the future of their country.