Executive Summary

The municipal elections which are scheduled to take place in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 13 and 14 September have little to do with democracy. The ruling nationalist parties received the complete electoral registers more than two weeks in advance of the poll and have since then been calculating the likely outcome in key municipalities. They are able to determine their level of support by examining the clearly distinguishable names of Bosniac, Serb and Croat voters. Moreover, the nationalist parties are aware that they will not receive any support from voters of other ethnic backgrounds. Where they see their position in jeopardy, they are threatening the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) with a boycott in an attempt to extract concessions and bend the results in their favour. In Republika Srpska the campaign has been eclipsed by the on-going power struggle between the President Biljana Plavsic and her predecessor and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic. President Plavsic's party, the Srpski narodni savez (SNS) or Serb National League is not participating in the elections since it was founded after the deadline for party registration. The OSCE is supervising these elections, as in 1996, after negotiating an extension of its mandate to the end of 1997 with the authorities of both entities, the Federation and Republika Srpska. This time, however, the OSCE was not required to certify whether the right conditions for voting existed. It is clear though that with indicted war criminals still at liberty and continuing to exert influence, conditions for a free, fair and democratic poll could not exist. Thus the elections run the risk of again conferring a pseudo-democratic mandate on many of the ethnic cleansers. This municipal poll was originally scheduled to take place a year ago. However, as a result of widespread and blatant manipulation of voter registration, it was postponed several times. In an attempt to avoid a repetition of the fraud which marred the 1996 elections and determine the size of the electorate, the OSCE obliged all voters to register. Voter registration -- with an OSCE international supervisor in every one of the 420 Voter Registration Centres -- began on 5 May and lasted until 28 June. In total 2.52 million people registered to vote, 2.08 million within Bosnia and Herzegovina and 420,000 abroad. Of this, 54 per cent registered to vote in the Federation and 46 per cent in Republika Srpska. The OSCE tightened up the rules and regulations regarding the choice of location where people may vote to prevent the obvious packing of key municipalities which had caused the original postponement. As a result of these safeguards and careful monitoring, the OSCE uncovered a great deal of fraud orchestrated by the ruling parties. This was punished by the Election Appeals Sub-commission (EASC) which decided to strike 30 candidates from the top of the SDS party lists in eight municipalities, 21 HDZ candidates in six municipalities, and two SDA candidates in one municipality. The electoral campaign itself has been extremely low-key with few rallies and minimal violence. The OSCE has contributed financially to opposition parties, though not the ruling nationalists. For the election, there will be some 2,200 polling stations with an international supervisor in each overnighting on the premises to keep an eye on the ballot boxes. Additionally, hundreds of Bosnian observers and some 250 international observers will monitor the polling and counting. The success of these elections will ultimately depend upon the international community's commitment to implement the results, especially in municipalities in which "governments in-exile" are elected. A comprehensive certification process foresees that final certification will be withheld until a municipal council has, among other things, convened its first session attended by at least one elected councillor from each party or coalition and by all independent candidates. It must also elect its officers and the municipality's executive officers on the basis of proportional representation of minority parties. Final certification will be awarded on a municipality-by-municipality basis on or before 31 December 1997. The OSCE will "make concrete recommendations as to appropriate sanctions" against those municipalities that have not been certified. The results of the elections, with the possible exception of western Republika Srpska, are predictable. The fundamental flaw in the existing electoral system is that candidates need only seek votes from one ethnic group to win office and the consequence is a vicious cycle of fear and insecurity. It is possible, however, to design an electoral system which would generate very different results and help restore trust between the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina. If, for example, candidates were obliged to seek support from voters of other ethnic backgrounds in addition to their own in order to be elected, the political equation would be transformed. A system along these lines will have to be adopted before the September 1998 elections, if they are to serve as an instrument for reconciliation and if the country is to evolve into a true home for all its peoples.


Almost exactly a year after Bosnia and Herzegovina's first post-war national elections, Bosnians are again scheduled to go to the polls on 13 and 14 September to elect municipal councils. Whether or not elections do actually take place as scheduled is unclear at the time of this writing and appears to be changing by the hour. This is because the ruling nationalist parties are currently calculating likely outcomes and threatening the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the international body charged with supervising and organising the elections, with a boycott in an attempt to ring concessions and bend the results to their advantage. For elections to be free, fair and democratic, voters must be able to make an informed choice, free of fear and misinformation. Procedures on polling days must be adequate to minimise fraud and thereafter candidates must be allowed to take office and participate in the work of municipal councils. These elections, however, have little to do with democracy both because of the existing electoral system and the conditions in which they are taking place. Moreover, despite 21 months of peace, Bosnia and Herzegovina remains divided not only into two entities - the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Federation) and Republika Srpska - but also into three distinct statelets each dominated by the nationalist party representing the ethnicity of the army which gained control of the territory during the war 1 . A climate of fear prevails throughout the country: first and foremost, a fear of "others", which the nationalist parties play upon to solidify their support among their "own people"; and a secondary fear, created by the nationalist parties among their people of the consequences -- particularly in terms of personal security, jobs and housing -- of challenging them. In advance of the 1996 poll, the OSCE had to certify whether "elections can be effective under current conditions in both entities". 2 This year no such certification was necessary. Nevertheless, it is worth repeating the fears of the then OSCE Chairman-in-Office Flavio Cotti contained in his speech giving the green light for last year's elections. For Cotti noted the need to establish freedom of movement, freedom of expression and media, freedom of association and, more generally, a politically neutral environment. He also stressed that the most important prerequisite for free, fair and democratic elections was the elimination of "every single possibility of direct or indirect exertion of influence by indicted war criminals". And he warned that "if no actions are undertaken right now against the indicted war criminals, it can be taken for granted that the elections will very quickly give way to developments diametrically opposed to those which they were expected to yield. There exists the most serious danger that they then degenerate into a pseudo-democratic legitimisation of extreme nationalist power structures and ethnic cleansing." 3 This report does not focus on the incidents and conditions that supply concrete evidence of the violence, intimidation and other methods used to maintain and spread fear before the municipal elections. The fear is palpable and pervasive and the international community has failed to change the climate substantially. In any event, though media attention will inevitably be concentrated on the two days of voting, voter registration, which took place months before the poll, and post-election installation, which may last to the end of the year, are actually the key issues, and hence also the substance of this report. An unforeseen factor has come to overshadow the municipal elections, namely the on-going power struggle in Republika Srpska. This pits President Biljana Plavsic against her predecessor Radovan Karadzic, indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This conflict will not, at this point at least, be resolved at the ballot box: voters in Republika Srpska are unable to express their support for or against President Plavsic at the polls since her party, the Srpski narodni savez (SNS) or Serb National League, is not participating in the elections. The SNS was founded on 28 August -- too late to register.

Importance Of These Elections

The Dayton Peace Agreement mandated the OSCE to supervise "the preparation and conduct of elections" including "if feasible, ... for municipal governing authorities". 4 Municipal elections were originally scheduled to take place on 14 September 1996 at the same time as the presidential, national, entity and cantonal level polls. However, as a result of widespread and blatant manipulation of voter registration by the ruling parties, in particular among refugees in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the municipal poll was cancelled and rescheduled for November 1996. When that date proved unworkable, the poll was again postponed, first to April and then to July 1997. It is now scheduled for 13 and 14 September 1997. The OSCE's mandate was extended for municipal elections, through December of this year (so as to allow for OSCE supervision of post-election implementation), pursuant to agreement reached with authorities of both entities, the Federation and Republika Srpska. There are 136 municipalities in the country, 75 in the Federation and 61 in Republika Srpska. The average municipality voter population is 18,500, although some have as few as 415 and others as many as 132,000 voters. Each voter may vote for one party, coalition or independent candidate. A total of 92 political parties, 9 coalitions and 150 independent candidates are participating in the elections. The SDA and HDZ, as well as the SDP (Social Democratic Party - Socialna demokratska partija ) and Joint List '97 (Zdruzena lista '97), the largest multi-ethnic party and coalition, respectively, are running candidates in both entities; the SDS however, is running candidates only in Republika Srpska. Seats will be allocated on the councils in accordance with the percentage of votes won, so that in most municipalities a party can win a seat with 3-4 percent of the total vote. While the system assures that minority parties can win seats on the councils, the experience of most councils functioning until now has been that the party that controls more than 50 percent of the seats controls all municipal powers. To address this threat, the Provisional Election commission (PEC) of the OSCE adopted regulations for these elections which condition certification of election results for each municipality on proportional representation of minority parties among the executive officers, council officers and committee membership. 5 This will not persuade hardliners to share power or, indeed, to turn over power where they loose the majority. It does, however, provide grounds for the OSCE to refuse to certify election results in those municipalities.

The Stakes

In these municipal elections, voters will elect the members of their municipal councils, in the Federation, and municipal assemblies, in Republika Srpska (both will be referred to as councils in this report). The elections are important because many municipal councils are currently dominated by individuals who usurped power during the war and have no democratic mandate. Many are made up exclusively of members of only one of Bosnia and Herzegovina's peoples, often the very national group that forcibly expelled the pre-war population. Even municipalities which are ruled by politicians elected in the last municipal elections can no longer claim a democratic mandate since that poll took place seven years ago, in 1990. That said, if the elections are held without minimal conditions and in an atmosphere of fear, they are likely to give a pseudo-democratic mandate to many of the ethnic cleansers. Because voter registration conducted this year required voters to register and to declare where they intended to vote, 6 the results of the elections were largely predictable by the close of registration. On 26 August, a CD-ROM disk of the complete list of voters and the municipalities where they registered was released to the three ruling parties (SDA, HDZ and SDS). Since then, the ruling parties have been combing through the names of people registered in municipalities which they fear they could lose (basically, areas from which people were cleansed during the war), counting up the numbers of Bosniacs, Croats and Serbs (which can be determined with fair accuracy from their first and/or last names). Because the overwhelming majority will vote for "their" nationalist party, or a party that would work in coalition with the nationalist party, the main variable will be the voter turn-out on election days. There are eight municipalities -- two currently Bosniac-controlled, four Croat-controlled, and two Serb-controlled -- where displaced persons could cast the majority of votes and thus elect a government in exile. In addition, in 21 municipalities (one currently Bosniac-controlled, six Croat-controlled, and 14 Serb-controlled), displaced voters could elect a sizeable minority of councillors. There is only one municipality - Tuzla, in the Federation -- where a non-nationalist coalition has a good chance of retaining its majority; and only one region (Bihac) in the Federation where there is a substantial intra-ethnic contest (between the SDA and the DNZ, Demokratska Narodna Zajednica, the party of Fikret Abdic).

Powers of Municipal Authorities

Municipal councils are responsible for local public management and services, from waste collection to supervision of housing reconstruction. Before the war, municipal authorities exercised considerable power. They collected taxes and, crucially, they appointed directors of "socially-owned" companies and public services (schools, hospitals, the postal system, public utilities, local transport services, etc.). These coteries of local authorities and directors (virtually all of whom belonged to the League of Communists before the war) controlled most of the funds and benefits dispersed at the local level. They also controlled the main media.

Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

In the Federation, the Washington Agreement of 1994 radically created 10 cantons and shifted to them many powers previously held by the municipal authorities. In particular, the cantons were granted all responsibilities not expressly retained by the Federation, including: establishing and controlling the police; appointing judges to cantonal and municipal courts; making policy on educational and cultural matters; regulating and providing housing and public services; regulating local energy production and land use; regulating and promoting local businesses and charitable organisations; regulating and producing radio and TV programmes; implementing social welfare policy; and raising revenue to finance cantonal activities through taxation and borrowing. 7 Cantonal leaders were elected in September 1996 and in the past several months, as the cantons have adopted constitutions and other fundamental legislation, the grip on power and money has shifted to the cantonal level. In the cantons where the same party currently controls the cantonal assembly and all municipal governments, the change in formal structure has not been significant. 8 In the "mixed" cantons where the HDZ and the SDA each control some municipalities, protracted negotiations have been underway to establish the modalities for sharing power. 9 These negotiations are at the inter- as well as intra-cantonal levels, with the HDZ and SDA reaching deals to give up power advantages in some cantons in exchange for advantages in others.

Republika Srpska

In theory, municipalities in Republika Srpska possess greater power and independence than in the Federation. In effect, they have retained the level of authority and autonomy which they possessed before Yugoslavia's break-up. They have also inherited the informal system of control that existed in the former Yugoslavia, namely that of the ruling party, formerly the League of Communists, now the SDS. As a result, the actual freedom of individual municipalities to manoeuvre has in practice been limited. Moreover, the money to which the municipalities, and indeed all levels of public administration, are in theory entitled has all too often been siphoned off into private pockets. This has contributed to a decline in local services and helped precipitate the political crisis in Republika Srpska in recent months. The on-going power struggle between President of Republika Srpska Biljana Plavsic, in Banja Luka, and Radovan Karadzic and his associates in Pale, has a bearing on the elections since it has contributed to a deterioration in the security situation. Moreover, many of the issues at stake, in particular the level of fraud within Republika Srpska government itself, go to the heart of the political debate.

OSCE Supervisory Bodies

Provisional Election commission

The mandate of the Provisional Election commission (PEC), set up for the 1996 elections, was extended through 31 December 1997 for the municipal elections. The PEC was comprised of four international and three Bosnian members and was chaired by the Head of the OSCE Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Early in 1997, the PEC adopted or amended rules and regulations regarding the registration of political parties and independent candidates; the eligibility of candidates and voters; the role of domestic and international election observers; the ensuring of an open and fair electoral campaign; and the establishment, publication, and certification of election results. The PEC was also mandated to supervise all aspects of the electoral process, develop a voter registration procedure, adopt and ensure compliance with electoral Rules and Regulations (Rules), and ensure that appropriate action was taken to remedy any violation of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) or electoral rules. 10 Under the supervision of the PEC, Local Election commissions (LECs) were established to organise the registration and elections procedures at the municipal level. The LEC members were nominated by authorities in each municipality and approved by the PEC. In addition, the PEC continued the mandate or established new supervisory bodies: the Election Appeals Sub-commission (EASC), the Media Experts commission (MEC), the Citizenship Verification Sub-commission, Future Municipality Sub-commission, Registration and Elections Supervisors, and International Adjudicators.

Election Appeals Sub-commission

The EASC consists of four judges, including a Bosniac nominated by the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a Croat nominated by the Federation and a Serb nominated by Republika Srpska. It is chaired by an international jurist. The EASC is mandated to ensure compliance with the DPA and PEC Rules and to adjudicate complaints about the electoral process. It has the power to impose penalties against any individual, candidate, party, or other body that violates the PEC Rules. The penalties may include fines, disqualification of candidates from a party's electoral lists, decertification of a party, removal of members from the LECs, from voter registration committees or from polling station committees, and "other appropriate penalties". 11

Media Experts commission

The MEC is mandated to monitor the conduct of the media and of the authorities in relation to the media, to investigate complaints of media-related violations, to require the media to broadcast or print statements, and to refer cases of violations to the EASC or the PEC. The MEC includes representatives of the Parties, 12 three media experts chosen by the Parties, three independent journalists chosen by the MEC Chair, a representative of the Office of the High Representative, an OSCE human rights or democratisation officer, and three non-voting representatives of the NATO-led Stabilisation Forces (SFOR); since June it has been chaired by the OSCE Senior Deputy Head of Mission. Media Expert Sub-commissions are functioning in each of the five OSCE regional centres.

Temporary Supervisory Bodies

The Citizenship Verification Sub-commission was charged with deciding whether individuals who wanted to register to vote but whose names could not be found on the 1991 census as adjusted for the September 1996 elections had presented sufficient documentation to justify issuance to them of a citizenship receipt. The Sub-commission was chaired by an international lawyer appointed by the PEC Chair, and includes deputies of the Bosnian members of the PEC. It worked by consensus. However, where consensus was not possible, the chairman's vote was decisive and binding. The Future Municipality Sub-commission decided cases referred to it by voter registration centres when an individual wishing to register in a municipality to which he intended to move could not present convincing evidence to demonstrate a link to that municipality. It was chaired by an international expert appointed by the PEC Chair, and included deputies of the Bosnian members of the PEC. This Sub-commission worked by consensus. However, where consensus was not possible, the chairman's vote was decisive and binding. The OSCE deployed more than one hundred International Adjudicators to verify and decide on future municipality applications. In light of the very low number of such applications, adjudicators were used primarily to investigate suspicions of voter registration fraud or other irregularities.

International Supervisors

The OSCE Registration and Election Supervisors were recruited by the organisation's member states. Some 400 Registration Supervisors were deployed during the registration process and more than 2,300 Elections Supervisors are expected to be deployed during the two-day election and subsequent counting process. Their duties include technical assistance and advice to the Voter Registration Committees and Polling Station Committees during voter registration, the voting itself, and the vote count; preparation of records in the registration and polling stations; and verification and oversight of sensitive registration and voting material.

International Observers

As during the September 1996 elections, the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) set up an Election Observation Mission (EOM) for the municipal elections which will produce an independent evaluation of the entire election process from registration to the announcement of the results. 13 This includes monitoring out-of-country and in-country voter registration, voting, sorting and distribution of ballots; following complaints and appeals to the EASC; hearing the electoral concerns of political parties and non-governmental organisations; evaluating observations and complaints about the electoral process; inviting, accrediting and co-ordinating the work of international observers; and, on the basis of their observations and reports, preparing a report for the OSCE Chairman-in-Office. While the EOM receives administrative support from the OSCE Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it was set up to operate independently of the Mission. It reports directly to the OSCE Chairman-in-Office. The EOM is staffed by personnel seconded by OSCE members states. Although the first Co-ordinator requested a core political team of six to 11 members, at least 10-25 long term observers, 200-250 short-term observers to observe the elections themselves, a four-person statistical unit and several support staff, by the end of the voter registration period, the EOM had received a total of only two international core team members and four long-term observers. 14 Another nine long-term observers arrived during July and August, for a total of 13 by the time of the elections. Some 250 short-term observers, including a number of parliamentary delegations, are expected to arrive in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 10 September, to be deployed throughout the country in two-person teams.

Domestic Observers

Domestic observers represent of registered political parties (who are not themselves candidates), coalitions, independent candidates, the media and citizen organisations; they "have a right to be present ... at polling stations and at counting centres" after obtaining accreditation from the LECs. 15 The OSCE, together with the Washington-based National Democratic Institute encouraged citizen organisations to nominate observers and provided training for them. They are crucial since representatives of opposition parties tend to be especially well-attuned to the kinds of fraud likely to be committed. In addition, it is important to develop the capacity, and acceptance of the role of, domestic observers for future elections.

Voter Registration

Who Will Vote and Where

The main purpose of voter registration was to develop an accurate list of eligible voters, so as to enable all those who are entitled to vote to do so, while keeping fraud and error to a minimum. In these elections, this was substantially accomplished. Out of an estimated electorate of 3.2 million eligible voters, 16 2.52 million registered, 17 representing 78.7 percent of the total electorate. Of the total registered to vote, 54 percent will vote for municipal councils in the Federation and 46 percent in Republika Srpska. Some 535,000 eligible voters are refugees outside the country, 18 of whom 420,000 (78 percent) registered. Given that approximately 35 percent of Bosnia and Herzegovina's population remain displaced from their pre-war places of residence (down from 50% at the end of the war), a second major purpose of the voter registration process was to enable displaced voters who wished to do so to vote in their pre-war municipalities, and to create reasonable options for those who genuinely did not wish to do so. These options had to be sufficiently narrow so as not to invite the sort of manipulation that occurred on a massive scale during the 1996 registration for displaced voters when, as detailed below, authorities in SDS- and, to a lesser degree, HDZ-controlled areas pressured refugees and internally displaced voters to register in their new municipalities from which the pre-war residents had been ethnically cleansed. A comparison of aggregate registration figures in the two entities shows: Voter RegistrationBiHFederationRepublika Srpska Registered in '91 municipality2.23m (89%)1.3m (96%)0.922m (81%) Current municipality0.275m (11%)0.055m (4%)0.219m (19%) Future municipality0.001m (0%) Total2.5m (100%)1.355m (100%)1.14m (100%) Voter PopulationBiHFederationRepublika Srpska Living in '91 municipality1.62m (65%)1.04m (76%)0.588m (51%) DPs in BiH0.46m (18%)0.123m (9%)0.336m (29%) DPs abroad0.42m (17%)0.202m (15%)0.216m (19%) Total2.5m (100%)1.36m (100%)1.14m (100%) There was a dramatic decrease of the number of voters who registered in a "future municipality" (where they had not lived pre-war) from 138,000 in 1996 to fewer then 1,000 (less than one percent). These results suggest that changes, detailed in section IV(B) below, in the PEC Rules and Regulations since last year have been successful in reducing the consolidation of war-time ethnic cleansing which the 1996 Rules had made possible. About 72 pre-war municipalities (53 percent) had ethnic majorities consistent with the current ethnic divisions. In not more than eight of the 136 municipalities is there a possibility that voters currently in exile (internally displaced or refugees) will be able to upset the power structure and win a majority on the municipal councils. OSCE uncovered systematic, widespread fraud and/or undue pressure orchestrated by the ruling parties in eight SDS-controlled municipalities in western Republika Srpska, six HDZ-controlled municipalities and one SDA-controlled municipality (discussed below in section IV-D). While it is impossible to estimate the level of undetected (and uncorrected) fraud, aggregate registration figures compared to population figures in some municipalities raise a likelihood of such undetected fraud. High voter registration (over 95 percent) in some municipalities could be due to well-organised voter registration drives or ruling party "encouragement" short of undue pressure. 19 A more definitive analysis will be possible only after a close examination of final and detailed registration figures by municipality (including numbers of voters who registered to vote absentee and in person, and in their pre-war or current municipality and, if refugees, the countries where they currently reside). Those figures are not available as of this writing.

New Registration Rules

Errors and fraud in the identification of the voters and of their preferred polling municipality were widespread during the 1996 elections. In order to reduce those errors and fraud, the PEC made four major changes in the electoral Rules and Regulations. The same people are eligible to vote in the upcoming municipal elections as in the September 1996 elections, namely "citizen[s] of Bosnia and Herzegovina aged 18 or older whose name appears on the 1991 census for Bosnia and Herzegovina". 20 Moreover, the "general rule" concerning displaced voters, set forth in Annex 3 of the Dayton Peace Agreement, remains the same: "A citizen who no longer lives in the municipality in which he or she resided in 1991 shall, as a general rule, be expected to vote, in person or by absentee ballot, in that municipality...." Also unchanged from last year is the rule that displaced voters may vote in their current municipality if they can prove residence there since before 31 July 1996. 21 However, in the September 1996 elections, voters displaced within the country as well as refugees outside the country had the option of voting in person in an intended place of residence (by completing what became notoriously known as the "P-2 form"). 22 It was the widespread abuse of this option that resulted in the OSCE's decision to postpone the municipal elections. The abuse included the registration of 123,000 Bosnian Serb refugees living in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to vote and eventually to live in municipalities across Republika Srpska where Bosniacs had formed a majority before the war. 23 In Brcko alone there were some 31,000 such registrations. For the upcoming elections, this option has been narrowly circumscribed: Persons displaced within the country were not allowed to register in an intended place of residence and refugee voters could do so only if they could establish genuine ties to the place. 24 Thus as mentioned above, fewer than 1,000 refugees successfully registered to vote in an intended place of residence. The Rules and Regulations were further changed to limit the kind of documentation acceptable to entitle displaced persons to vote in their current municipalities. For these elections, displaced voters had to present a residency receipt or a displaced person's card issued by the appropriate authority on or before 31 July 1996; no other proof was acceptable. 25 However, the rule was abused because the same municipal authorities who were entitled to issue the required documents were also the beneficiaries of a larger number of displaced persons voting there. For the 1996 elections, people did not have to register to vote if they planned to vote in person in their pre-war municipality and if their name was the same as it had been at the time of the 1991 census. Only if their name was different, or they wanted to vote elsewhere or by absentee ballot did they have to submit an application. (Even so, they were permitted to change their mind and vote in person in their pre-war municipality.) All voters were encouraged to check the Provisional Voters List, based on the 1991 Census, to ensure that they were properly listed. The census was found to be full of errors, with ID numbers transposed and names misspelled. Moreover, entries were sequenced in different ways, some by ID number, others by date-of-birth, others alphabetically by family name. OSCE decided to reorder names on the voters' list, to make it easier for polling station committees to locate voters' names on election day. Thus, the Final Voters List included corrections, changes and additions made during the registration process, but names were arranged in a different sequence than on the provisional list. Every polling station had a hard copy of the final list for the entire country since the PEC Rules gave all voters the option to vote in person in their pre-war municipalities. As a result, there was widespread confusion at polling stations. In his preliminary report for the 1996 elections, the Co-ordinator for International Monitoring (CIM) stated that the problems in voter registration "undoubtedly jeopardised the integrity of the list", as a result of which thousands of people were unable to find their names on the final voters' list and thus were not allowed to vote. In the Federation, 50 percent of polling stations reported such problems, and in Republika Srpska, 37 percent. In some polling stations, voters were unable to vote owing to lack of adequate numbers of proper ballots, in particular absentee ballots. Long lines discouraged voters from voting and increased tensions, sloppiness and opportunities for fraud. Lack of information about which displaced voters would take buses to vote in person in their pre-war municipalities resulted in inadequate numbers of buses in many places, again discouraging voters and increasing tensions. Many of these displaced voters gave up trying to vote at all when they learned that polling stations which they thought would be located near their former homes (and thus provide an opportunity to visit their neighbourhoods) instead, at the last minute, were set up near the Inter-Entity Boundary Line in desolate places, a couple at sites of war-time atrocities. For these reasons, the PEC Rules were changed: eligible voters who wished to vote in the municipal elections were required to register. 26 People were entitled to register if they would be 18 by the time of the elections and their name appeared on the 1991 census as adjusted for use in the September 1996 elections. If their name was not on the adjusted census, they could establish their citizenship by producing one of two documents: (a) a certificate of citizenship issued prior to 1991, or (b) a receipt issued by the appropriate municipal authority confirming that the person was recorded as a citizen in one of the official municipal record prior to the 1991 census. 28 This voter registration process improved the accuracy of the voters list and reduced opportunities for fraud. However, fraud still occurred: people who were not citizens in 1991 could, and did, try to "prove" their citizenship using false documents. Furthermore, according to the new PEC Rules, eligible voters had to decide when registering where they would vote, so that every polling station would have a list of its eligible voters; voters will not be permitted to change their mind at the last minute. This new rule will reduce confusion at the polling stations, and has greatly improved the ability to plan for manageable numbers of voters, adequate numbers of ballots and security at each station and for voters who cross entity or ethnic boundaries.

OSCE Supervision of Voter Registration

In-country voter registration was conducted beginning on 5 May at 420 Voter Registration Centres throughout the country. Owing to a slow start, registration was extended from 16 to 28 June. Each Centre was staffed by a team of three or more Bosnians selected by the Local Election commission in each municipality. Each centre was monitored by an International Registration Supervisor (accompanied by a locally-hired translator) whose functions included observing, advising and assisting the Bosnian staff. Each supervisor was. Since most Local Election commissions were dominated by the municipality's ruling party, so were the Bosnian staff of the registration centres. Registration for refugee voters in Croatia (25 Centres) and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (35 Centres) began on 5 May. Arrangements for staffing, monitoring and registration were similar to those made at in-country registration centres. The deadline for registration was extended from 7 to 14 June. Registration for refugee voters in all countries other than Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was conducted by mail through offices in Austria and Germany. In the first week of voter registration, OSCE in-country registration staff discovered what they thought might be fraudulent practices. On 26 May, the Election Appeals Sub-commission (EASC) found evidence of voter registration irregularities in more than 31 municipalities. These were located primarily in northern Republika Srpska, with substantial irregularities in Banja Luka, Prijedor, Gradiska, Kotor Varos, Srpski Drvar and Srpski Kljuc/Ribnik. The fraud detected was so blatant that it did not require close scrutiny of documents. Registration staff were seen completing registration forms for people not present; all displaced persons cards presented at one station were dated between 16-22 June 1996; municipal receipts presented by voters to prove citizenship, dated 1991, gave the new name of the municipality (after it had been renamed in 1992); citizenship receipts in two municipalities bore the stamp of Republika Srpska which did not exist in 1991; in one centre, an unusually high number of displaced persons' cards had been issued on the same date; the chairman of one centre registered 19 voters when the centre was closed based on receipts that contained inadequate information; in another centre, Serb refugees from Croatia (Krajina) were registered. On 1 and 2 June, in response to a large number of warnings from International Supervisors and OSCE permanent field staff concerning apparent registration fraud, the OSCE closed down voter registration centres to provide additional staff training. In particular, registration centre staff were reminded that OSCE Directive 16, issued on 17 May, required them to write on the back of voter registration application forms the type of documents tendered to prove citizenship and residency, as well as key information on those documents. The Directive also announced that teams of "spot-checkers" would examine voter registration documents on a random basis in order to determine their authenticity by comparing with records at the municipal offices and police stations. Several spot-check teams also went to villages to verify whether voters lived at the addresses stated on their documents. Although Directive 16 was issued on 17 May, all OSCE staff in the field questioned by ICG were either unaware of it or were unaware of how to implement it prior to the June training sessions. In three municipalities - Brcko (RS), Zepce and Jajce (Federation) - where violations were found early on to be particularly widespread, the OSCE carefully monitored voter registration, discovered abuses, conducted re-registration and punished ruling parties at the municipal level (by, among others, striking candidates from their party lists). However, during the first four weeks of voter registration (5-31 May), before the additional training sessions in June, there was substantial opportunity for use of falsified documents, and no practical way thereafter to go back to double-check whether documents had been falsified. About one-third of voters registered during this period.

Manipulation of Voter Registration

While changes in the PEC Rules stopped or substantially reduced the opportunities for certain kinds of fraud and voter manipulation, not all abuses were eliminated:

• Voters used false citizenship certificates and municipal residency receipts to prove that they were citizens and resided in the area, though they were not on the 1991 census. 29

• Voter registration centres' local staff completed registration forms for people not present.

• Voters presented false displaced persons' cards manufactured by local authorities. This was the most widespread form of fraud, aimed at enabling people who had moved into a municipality sometime after the cut-off date of 31 July 1996 nevertheless to vote there, in violation of the PEC Rules, Art. 10(c). Sometimes the fraud could be easily detected: some "old" displaced persons' cards looked suspiciously brand new; in some areas, a batch of voters who registered on the same day all had displaced persons cards ostensibly issued on the same day; some displaced persons cards gave residence addresses in totally uninhabited areas. More sophisticated kinds of fraud could not be detected unless teams compared the cards with municipal registry books or went to the listed addresses to investigate whether the voter indeed lived there. Accordingly, these kinds of fraud could be discovered only when spot-checking procedures were instituted.

• Local authorities and party officials placed undue pressure on voters by conditioning benefits or salary on proof of registration or participation in party rallies. Often this pressure was combined with the supply of falsified documents.

• Local authorities orchestrated or encouraged violence and intimidation against pre-war residents seeking to return to their homes in order to discourage those persons from registering to vote in their pre-war areas.

Ruling parties, especially SDS and HDZ, used the above forms of fraud to register, or pressure to register, their "supporters" to vote in municipalities to which they had no genuine ties, where they had never lived before and where they did not currently live. As mentioned above, the EASC concluded that there was substantial evidence of systematic voter registration fraud engineered by the ruling parties in eight SDS-controlled municipalities in western Republika Srpska (Banja Luka, Bosanski Brod, Brcko, Gradiska, Kotor Varos, Prijedor, Srpski Drvar and Srpski Kljuc/ Ribnik), 30 six HDZ-controlled municipalities (Zepce, Maglaj, Zavidovici, Jajce, Stolac and Capljina), and in one municipality (Zepce) where the SDA was attempting to gain a majority. 31 In two of these municipalities (Capljina and Brcko), the ruling party was held responsible for conditioning humanitarian assistance, employment or salary on presentation of a receipt showing registration in the current municipality. The EASC considered the violations to be sufficiently serious to warrant the striking of 21 candidates from the top of HDZ party lists in six municipalities, two SDA candidates in one municipality, and 11 SDS candidates in seven municipalities. A special case was that of the municipality of Srpski Drvar (Republika Srpska), with only 50 current residents, where 19 candidates for office submitted false residency document. The EASC decertified the entire SDS list. In these instances, the parties sanctioned could not re-fill the positions left vacant as a result of decertification. The EASC also imposed sanctions on the members of Local Election commissions by ordering the removal of three SDS members, the withholding of payment from two other SDS members, and the removal of two HDZ members. In two municipalities (Brcko and Jajce), the fraud was so persistent that the OSCE sanctioned the parties for a second time by decertifying more candidates from the ruling party lists. In order to enhance the deterrent impact of decisions, in several cases the EASC ordered that decisions or other messages be broadcast on the local media. In Caplinja, where the EASC discovered that HDZ authorities had refused to issue displaced person identification documents to people who registered to vote outside of Caplinja, the EASC ordered the authorities to issue the identification documents to the affected people. In addition, the EASC concluded that house burning and other forms of violence in the HDZ-controlled municipality of Drvar (Federation) just before the start of voter registration were intended to and likely to influence the election environment. Accordingly it decertified one candidate and put parties and authorities around the country on notice that subsequent house destruction would result in the decertification of candidates, possibly at the rate of one or two candidates per house destroyed. 32 Since the ruling, attacks on houses have been substantially reduced.

Campaign Period

Freedom of Political Activity and Security

Political parties have focused their campaigns on areas in which they feel they have good prospects of winning votes. As a result, parties which are principally Croat have concentrated canvassing efforts in Croat-controlled Federation territory and in Croatia; parties which are principally Serb in Republika Srpska and FRY; and parties which are principally Bosniac have concentrated their canvassing efforts in Bosniac-controlled Federation territory and among the refugee community abroad. 33 The Sarajevo-based, principally Bosniac UBSD (Union of Bosnian and Herzegovinian Social-Democrats or Unija Bosansko-Hercegovackih socijal-demokrata), a member of the Joint List '97 (Zdruzena lista '97) coalition, has successfully established an office in Livno, in a Croat-controlled region of the Federation. This year, the level and intensity of political campaigning have been considerably lower than that in 1996. Reported incidents of election-related violence and intimidation are also well down on last year. One independent candidate in Banja Luka was beaten on 24 August, though it is not clear whether this was due to his political opinions. 34 Inter-ethnic tensions were high during the latter campaign period due to clashes between ethnic groups, such as the expulsions of Bosniac returnees by Croats from Jajce during the weekend of 2 and 3 August and the killing of two Croat returnees in Travnik on 30 August. While not directly related to the elections, this violence clearly has an impact on the attitudes of voters, reinforcing the grip of the nationalist parties on the electorate.

Media and Communications

The Bosnian media remain divided into three almost totally separate markets in Republika Srpska, Bosniac-controlled Federation territory and Croat-controlled Federation territory. One feature common to all three electronic media markets is the overwhelming influence of the official, pro-government or party-controlled broadcasters. 35 In practice, this means HTV in Croat-controlled Federation territory, RTV BiH in Bosniac-controlled Federation territory and SRT in Republika Srpska, though the latter split into two rival broadcasters in August. The output of all these stations is characterised by unquestioning obedience to authority to the benefit of the ruling parties. That said, there are nevertheless qualitative differences between them. HTV refuses to respect any OSCE rules. Editor Veseljko Cerkez informed viewers in a recent commentary that the OSCE aimed to "diminish, discourage and destabilise, on the eve of the elections, a party with a winner mentality, together with journalists and a media station who won't allow themselves to be moulded, Yugoslavised, and finally, sold." 36 Cerkez adamantly refused to comply with the OSCE's directives to refrain from broadcasting inflammatory programmes and, in particular, refused to broadcast an editorial reply to an especially virulent speech on 19 June by Marko Radic, the former commander of the west Mostar police. Only after the OSCE struck the top names from the HDZ party lists in the three west Mostar municipalities, and threatened to strike more, did Cerkez finally comply. 37 RTV BiH tends to air a wider range of opinion that any other pro-government broadcaster but remains reverential to the SDA. According to the Institute of War and Peace Reporting, "As for political impartiality, RTV BiH displayed a noticeable bias in favour of the ... SDA and its Coalition for a United and Democratic BiH." 38 Moreover, in the weekend before the municipal elections, it served up near blanket coverage of the SDA party conference. SRT divided into two rival stations of the same name on 23 August, one in Banja Luka, the other in Pale. The split reflects the power struggle in Republika Srpska and followed the take-over of police stations in Banja Luka by forces loyal to President Biljana Plavsic. SRT's Banja Luka studio still broadcasts news which closely resembles the rest of SRT, including the same logos, music and weather forecasts. However, instead of invariably leading the news with the day's activities of Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serb member of the Bosnian Presidency, it prefers to focus on President Plavsic's day. 39 Banja Luka SRT possesses one key transmitter on mount Kozara and covers much of the western Republika Srpska. On 28 August Plavsic loyalists attempted to seize two more transmitters in Doboj and Lopare near Bijeljina but failed. For six days SFOR held the Lopare transmitter before agreeing on 2 September to return it to the Pale authorities. As a result, Pale SRT possesses four transmitters -- Doboj, Lopare, Pale and Trebinje -- and covers all of eastern Republika Srpska and part of the west. Pale SRT cancelled the programme Party Chronicle, which was a show case for opposition parties, on 18 August. Banja Luka SRT, by contrast, does offer room to alternative views and allows opposition parties time to introduce themselves to the electorate. According to the 2 September agreement between SFOR, Pale SRT and Republika Srpska interior ministry, Pale SRT was, among other things, to set aside one hour a day for opposition parties. To date, however, it has failed to comply. Moreover, on 8 September the station rejected the agreement as "interference" in its programming. The internationally-funded broadcasters, the Open Broadcast Network (OBN) and Radio FERN give opposition parties a platform. However, their programming has largely failed to attract audiences. One credible survey of media audiences, limited to Banja Luka, found that fewer than half a percent of people watched OBN or listened to FERN regularly. 40 Opposition political parties find it especially difficult to get their views into media receivable by refugee voters. Bosniac refugee voters in Europe are heavily dependent on Bosniac television's satellite broadcasts and the nationalist weekly newspaper Ljiljan, both of which are partial to the SDA. Oslobodjenje is also available abroad as a weekly digest, as are some Sarajevo-based magazines, but none has had such an impressive distribution as Ljiljan. Moreover, telephone communications between the entities remain problematic. Even though the most recent meeting of the peace implementation council in Sintra, Portugal at the end of May set 15 July for the connection of Bosnia and Herzegovina's various telephone exchanges, this is yet to happen. On a visit to Bosnia in August, President Clinton's Special Advisor Richard Holbrooke boasted that a common telephone system was agreed to, but it remains to be put in practice. While it is occasionally possible to call Banja Luka from Sarajevo, it is not possible to make direct calls from anywhere in Republika Srpska to anywhere in the Federation.


As in 1996, the OSCE is helping fund the electoral campaigns of political parties contesting the elections. Total support at $1.5 million is less than a third of what the OSCE made available in 1996. This year, however, unlike last year it is not contributing financially to the three ruling parties, SDA, SDS and HDZ, nor is it supporting the Party of Serb Unity (Stranka srpskog jedinstva) of the warlord Zeljko Raznjatovic-Arkan. Funds have been distributed according to a formula drawn up by the OSCE. Independent candidates are each entitled to a maximum of 4,000 DM which is given partly as up-front cash and the rest as reimbursement upon presentation of receipts for campaign-related expenses. Political parties receive a proportion of the total funding available adjusted according to the following: (1) the number of municipalities they are contesting; (2) the number of candidates they are fielding; and (3) their relative political strength based on the 1996 electoral results. Coalitions receive financial support according to the number of parties which make up the coalition. Zlatko Lagumdzija, President of the Social-Democratic Party (Socijalna demokratska partija), declared that his party, the strongest individual opposition party, has received about 110,000 DM which he calculated as about 70 DM per candidate. 41 The three ruling parties are not entitled to any financial support from the OSCE because they already receive substantial handouts from the entity governments based on their parliamentary representation. In the Federation, for example, of 600,000 DM to be divided among all political parties in 1997, 307,317 DM was earmarked for the SDA and 193,171 DM for the HDZ. By contrast, only 14,634 DM was earmarked for the SDP and 11,707 for the UBSD. 42 In addition, the SDP has accused the SDA of levying special taxes on companies to raise money to wage its electoral campaign. It has published documents pertaining to come from the Travnik municipality which support this accusation. 43

Election Days

Polling Station Arrangements

There will be some 2,200 polling stations throughout the country, scheduled to be open from 7am to 7pm on September 13 and 14, with the possibility for extended hours as necessary. Each polling station will be staffed by a polling station chairperson and committee appointed by the Local Election commissions. The plan is to have at each station one international election supervisor who will have undergone a two-day training; on the night of the 13th, the supervisors will sleep in the premises where the ballot boxes will be kept. Most supervisors will arrive at their stations three to four days in advance of the polling days. Accredited international observers and domestic observers are entitled to be present in the polling stations and at the counting centres. There will be five kinds of polling stations in Bosnia and Herzegovina: (1) regular stations, for voters who live and want to vote in the municipality; (2) absentee stations, for displaced voters who reside in the municipality where the station is located but will vote in their pre-war municipality; (3) cross-municipality stations, for displaced voters who will come into the municipality -- where they lived pre-war -- to vote in person; (4) out-of-country stations, for voters who presently live outside Bosnia and Herzegovina and come to vote in person in the municipality (voters who registered in a "future municipality" must vote in person; voters who registered in their pre-war municipality may vote in person); and (5) mixed stations, where any two or more of the above functions may be combined. In addition, there will be 35 polling stations in FRY and 25 in Croatia where eligible Bosnian voters living in those countries may vote in-person for councils in their pre-war municipalities.

OSCE Supervision

Last year, there were only 2,050 international observers for 4,400 polling stations: 1,200 OSCE election supervisors, who reported to the OSCE Head of Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and 850 short-term monitors who reported through the Co-ordinator for International Monitoring (CIM) to the OSCE Chairman-in-Office. Each team had separate objectives and deployment plans, with the result that many stations were left without international observers for long periods of time. Moreover, there was no co-ordination between CIM and the OSCE supervisors, and their functions were very much intermingled and confused. These left significant gaps in both functions as well as duplication of efforts. In the final analysis, both the CIM and the election supervisors were largely ineffective. Many stations had no observers -- domestic or international -- for periods of several hours. Because most polling station staff consisted of ruling party appointees, this gap provided an opportunity for fraud. At several stations, a very high number of people registered during these unsupervised periods. However, the fraud could not be proven in the absence of monitors. The OSCE's commitment to deploy an international supervisor to every polling station for the municipal elections is a crucial advance over last year's preparations. Moreover, the OSCE has put together two excellent manuals: a Polling and Counting Manual (for all supervisors), and a collection of guidelines for monitoring the campaign period. However, while the Manual sets forth the procedures to be followed by polling station committees throughout the voting and counting processes, it does not provide an illustrative list of the kinds of fraud and other irregularities that occurred last year and could be expected to recur.

Election Observation Mission

The office of the Co-ordinator of International Monitors (CIM) has, this year, been replaced by the Election Observation Mission (EOM) with essentially the same functions. 44 However, unless the EOM changes the methodology used by the CIM last year there is a risk that the operation will once again add little to the monitoring process. With 850 monitors deployed last year in teams of two to 4,400 polling stations, most observations lasted no more than one hour, with some lasting only a few minutes. The monitors were asked to complete a very simple questionnaire for input into a computer database that directed their attention to only the most blatant forms of fraud and, while the form also invited them to write about "any other irregularities", they were not adequately trained to look for more sophisticated forms of fraud. As a consequence, and particularly owing to the short periods of time spent at each polling station, the monitors detected few irregularities. According to the first CIM report, irregularities were detected in fewer than 5 percent of the stations. 45 This report gave unjustified support to those who wanted to claim the fairness of the elections. However, after well-documented reports of fraud and widespread opportunities for fraud began to appear, including from the ICG, the CIM produced a more considered report that noted various problems with the election process. This report was kept under tight wraps and CIM never made any public statements to clarify the limitations of its methodology. In January this year, ICG urged that, in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes, the OSCE supervisors should be tasked with completing the computerised forms and submitting them to the head of the international observation mission, given that there will be a supervisor at each polling station throughout the two-day period. ICG further suggested that the observation mission concentrate on fielding long-term, rather than short-term, observers who would thereby be able to monitor the campaign period as well as have a better feel for the kinds of problems to look for on election days. Neither of these suggestions was taken, nor were other adequate changes instituted. Instead, EOM will deploy 250 short-term observers to monitor some 2,200 polling stations. Thus, each two-person team will have to cover an average of 17.6 polling stations in the course of the two days. The OSCE Mission will deploy sufficient number of Supervisors to ensure full supervision at every single polling station for the duration of the polling and counting process. Accordingly, EOM's parallel deployment may be superfluous. ICG urges that, in public statements after the elections, EOM should make very clear the limitations of the office's monitoring capacity. The EOM press release of 5 September contained misleading information concerning the EOM's capacity by claiming that 13 long-term observers had been observing the electoral process "over the last four months", including "the registration of voters", while other EOM documents state that only four long-term observers had been deployed as of 1 July (the close of voter registration). ICG also urges the EOM to deploy some monitors to assure continuous observation in municipalities where fraud or other irregularities are most likely to be attempted (including those areas where scrutiny of voters names on the CD-ROM released by the OSCE shows that the contest between two nationalist parties will be close).

Post-Election Certification And Installation Process

The success of these elections will depend (in addition to keeping fraud and voter manipulation to a minimum) upon the international community's commitment to press for the implementation of the election results, and to refuse to certify results in municipalities where minimum standards are not met. The OSCE, together with the other implementing organisations (OHR and SFOR), developed a two-step election certification process involving, first, verification, and second, implementation, of the election results.

Technical Certification

Last year there was no way to verify the vote count, segregate ballots from stations where evidence of fraud had been observed, or conduct re-counts, and thus no way to document or respond to allegations of substantial fraud on voting day. Accordingly, even when the EASC issued rulings confirming systematic fraud at a few polling stations, those ballots could not be identified and segregated for possible disqualification. This year, the OSCE has established procedures that will make it possible to re-count votes and repeat polling at particular polling stations. 46 Audit trails will be created for all ballot counts, so that they can be repeated if necessary. The PEC will issue a technical certification of the election results on a municipality-by-municipality basis after the results have been verified and reconciled, complaints to the EASC and PEC have been resolved, recounts and repeats have been conducted, and seats have been allocated. 47 The technical certification, as currently set forth in the electoral rules, will identify municipalities where fraud occurred on election day and/or during the vote count. The OSCE (through the EASC) identified 15 municipalities where ruling parties orchestrated fraud, undue influence or violence affecting voter registration at such a high level that candidates were struck from the party lists. In more than a dozen other municipalities, corrective action short of candidate decertification was taken. The technical certification should not legitimise authorities who used fraud or pressure during any part of the electoral process. ICG urges that the technical certification should also identify municipalities where fraud occurred during the voter registration process.

Final Certification

Last year, OSCE's certification of the fairness of the elections did not include any requirements relating to the implementation of the election results. Moreover, had the OSCE not certified the elections, the UN Security Council might have been prepared to continue sanctions against FRY and Republika Srpska. 48 However, the OSCE did certify them, despite substantial evidence of fraud, intimidation, undue pressure, unfair media access and coverage. 49 The strongest argument for doing so was that certification would lead to the formation of joint institutions necessary for the running of the country. However, by rushing to certify, the international community gave up one of its most potent levers for pressing for the functioning of those institutions. They are still to be functional. According to the new PEC Rules, the OSCE Head of Mission (HOM), in his capacity as Chairman of the PEC and after discussion with the PEC, will issue a final certification on a municipality-by-municipality basis on or before 31 December 1997. At that time he will "make concrete recommendations as to appropriate sanctions" against those municipalities that have not been certified. 50 To receive Final Certification, a municipal council must perform all of the following: 51

• It must convene its first session, after adequate notification to all members.

• The session must be attended by at least one elected councillor from each party or coalition and by all independent candidates.

• The council must elect a President and Vice-President, and elect or appoint other officers and committees, as provided for in the municipal statute.

• It must elect the municipal executives (the Mayor and Deputy Mayor or Municipal Executive Board), as provided for in the municipal statute, and appoint the municipal secretary.

• It must adopt its rules of procedure.

In addition, final certification can be denied to a municipality for violating basic democratic principles, as evidenced by various actions, including: 52

• elected councillors have been denied access to the municipality, the municipal buildings or the council itself; 53

• elected councillors have been unable to participate in the council sessions owing to threats, harassment or violence;

• elected councillors have been prevented from establishing residence in the municipality;

• minority political parties or coalitions are not proportionally represented among the executive officers, council officers or council committees;

• council sessions are conducted with religious or ethnic oaths, hymns or icons or by other means inconsistent with the council's secular and multi-ethnic nature;

• executive officers, council officers or councillors have been denied access to municipal funds, materials or other assets necessary for the adequate performance of their functions.

Implementation and Potential Impact of Certification Process

It would be naïve to think that the post-election implementation process, as well conceived as it undeniably is, will motivate municipal councils -- particularly those that are committed to ethnic separation -- to function democratically in the long term. Rather, the certification process will highlight the municipal councils that, over the three-month period between the election and the final certification, have shown themselves determined to resist any degree of power sharing with minority parties. The list of municipalities not certified by the PEC should be used by donors and investors to limit financial support in those places to the minimum needed for humanitarian purposes. The OSCE and the High Representative should make clear promptly after the elections what their responses will be to non-implementation. The High Representative, together with the donors, should state that no funds will be channelled through non-compliant councils; and that alternative channels will be sought, including humanitarian organisations or parties "in exile" (namely, those representing people displaced from the municipality which won a majority or substantial number of seats but were unable to participate meaningfully on the council owing to intimidation or lack of democratic process).

The Way Forward

The results of the forthcoming municipal elections, with the possible exception of western Republika Srpska, are to a very large extent predictable. The vast majority of Bosniacs will vote for the ruling Bosniac nationalist party SDA; the majority of Serbs will vote for the ruling Serb nationalist party SDS; and the majority of Croats will vote for the ruling nationalist HDZ. And, with minor exceptions, the three nationalist parties will win landslide victories and continue to dominate Bosnian political life. This is a legacy of 44 months of war and is indicative of the prevailing absence of trust between peoples. It is also, however, a feature and indeed a fundamental weakness of the existing electoral system. All democracies are based on the principle of universal and equal suffrage, namely that every citizen (above a certain age) can vote and that his or her vote or votes will carry equal weight. Beyond this, however, democratic countries come in many forms and no two have identical institutions or electoral systems. Designers of political institutions can generate very different results depending on the system they opt for and the socio-political context in which it is used. The easiest political institution to be manipulated -- for good or for bad -- is the electoral system, that is the mechanism which translates votes cast into seats in the legislature. This is critical since the choice of electoral system effectively determines who is elected and which party or parties gain power. It also influences the development of the party system, that is the way parties campaign and political elite behave. In the Bosnian context, the electoral system could either provide incentives for parties to be broad-based and accommodating, or it could achieve the opposite, namely to encourage parties to base themselves on narrow appeals to ethnicity. The existing electoral system corresponds to the latter. The fundamental flaw in the existing electoral system -- at all tiers of government not just the municipal level -- is that candidates need only seek votes from one ethnic group to win office. Bosniacs can be elected without receiving a single Serb or Croat vote. Serbs can be elected without receiving a single Croat or Bosniac vote. And Croats can be elected without receiving a single Bosniac or Serb vote. Given the very recent experience of war, the prime factor motivating the electoral decision of almost all Bosnians is fear of the two other constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina to which he or she does not belong. Understandably, therefore, almost everybody votes for the candidate and/or party which promises the most robust defence against the perceived threat, that is for the nationalist party. But since the nationalist parties are themselves the threat to the two other peoples, the consequence is a vicious cycle of fear and insecurity. In these circumstances prospects of reconciliation and, yet more worrying, long-term stability are virtually non-existent. It is possible, however, to design an electoral system which would generate very different results and help restore trust between the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina. If, for example, candidates are obliged to seek support from voters of other ethnic backgrounds in addition to their own in order to win election, the political equation would be transformed. Critically, a Bosniac could only in practice be elected if acceptable to Serbs and Croats. A Serb could only be elected if acceptable to Croats and Bosniacs, and a Croat could only be elected if acceptable to Bosniacs and Serbs. This may be achieved in many ways. One is to set the ethnic proportion of legislative bodies to be elected in advance, that is the number of Bosniacs, Serbs, Croats and Others 54 to be elected, and then let all Bosnians vote for representatives of all groups. Variations on the above theme have already been partially introduced in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Mostar, for example, the ethnic results of the elections have been set in advance on the basis of the 1991 census. In this way, a third of seats is reserved for Croats, a third for Bosniacs and a third for Others. At the level of the Bosnian Presidency too, ethnic results are set in advance since one Serb is elected from Republika Srpska and one Bosniac and one Croat are elected from the Federation. In both instances, however, voters are only able to cast one ballot which invariably goes to the nationalist party thus maintaining the vicious cycle of fear and insecurity. If, however, voters were able to cast separate ballots for all their elected officials, that is for Bosniac, Serb, Croat and Other representatives, they would be able to help ensure the election of politicians from different ethnic backgrounds whom they consider acceptable. In this way, Bosniacs would vote for moderate Serbs, Croats and Others; Serbs would vote for moderate Croats, Others and Bosniacs; Croats would vote for moderate Others, Bosniacs and Serbs; and Others would vote for moderate Bosniacs, Serbs and Croats. And, critically, politicians would be obliged to seek support from voters from different backgrounds if they wish to be elected. The obvious immediate benefit of the system outlined above is the level of ethnic security which is built into the system: there will automatically be ethnic representation and all Bosnians will have a say in who among the ethnic groups they do not belong to governs them. It is a recipe for the re-election of moderates which would in time generate stable and efficient government. Indeed, it would also enable Bosnians to divide in the future on ideological grounds -- that is, for example, between economic socialists and conservatives -- as in the more mature democracies of the West, and not merely along ethnic lines. Though too late to install for this year's municipal elections, a system along these lines will have to be adopted before the September 1998 elections, if they are to serve as an additional instrument for reconciliation between Bosnians and the country is to evolve into a true home for all its peoples. Sarajevo, 10 September 1997


1. In the Federation, on the territory under control of the Bosnian Croat army the dominant nationalist party is the Hrvatska demokratska zajednica (HDZ) or Croat Democratic Union. Also in the Federation, on the territory controlled at the end of the war by the Bosnian Army, the dominant nationalist party is the Stranka demokratske akcije (SDA) or Party of Democratic Action. In Republika Srpska, the dominant nationalist party is the Srpska demokratska stranka (SDS) or Serb Democratic Party.

2. Dayton Peace agreement (DPA), Annex 3, Article 1(2).

3. Certification of the Elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Declaration of the Chairman-in-Office, Federal Councillor Flavio Cotti, at the Permanent Council of the OSCE, 25 June 1996.

4. DPA, Annex 3, Article II(2).

5. See PEC Rules and Regulations (PEC Rules), Art. 235.5(b)(4).

6. In contrast, voters did not have to register last year if they planned to vote in person in their pre-war municipalities. The voter registration systems this year and last are described in section IV, below.

7. Constitution of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina of 1994, Chapter III, arts. 2-4. In addition, the cantons share with the Federation responsibilities to guarantee and enforce human rights; protect health and the environment; develop infrastructure for communications and transport; implement social welfare policy; implement laws and regulations concerning citizenship, immigration and asylum; and regulate and develop tourism and use of natural resources.

8. SDA-controlled are Sarajevo, Gorazde-Podrinja and Una-Sana; HDZ-controlled are Western Herzegovina and Canton 10.

9. Central Bosnia, Posavina and Neretva-Herzegovina.

10. DPA, Annex 3, Article III.

11. PEC Rules, arts. 137-141.

12. Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federation and Republika Srpska.

13. For the 1996 elections, the Election Observation Mission's equivalent was called the office of the Co-ordinator for International Monitoring (CIM). The functions remain substantially the same.

14. Two of the long-term observers arrived only during the last two weeks of the eight-week voter registration period. The team was supplemented by nine short-term observers (including seven from the ICG). The Co-ordinator of the EOM in his 12 July report candidly stated, "As could be expected, many of the biggest problems encountered by the [voter registration centre] Committees and Supervisors arose in the early days of registration, and before the Observation Mission was in place." (Report, p. 14.)

15. PEC Rules, Art. 203; see also Art. 65.

16. The figure of 3.2 million was arrived at as follows: According to the 1991 Census, 3.522 million people would have been 18 or older on 14 Sept 1996. In the 1996 elections, the OSCE added to the voter list 35,400 individuals whose names were mistakenly not on the census. The Bosnian authorities estimate that during the war there was a higher mortality rate, resulting in additional 195,600 deaths. It is fair to assume that virtually all of these people would have been of voting age. The Bosnian Institute of Public Health estimates the number of people killed during the war at between 156,824 and 278,000. Considering that approximately 70 percent of the population are eligible voters, it can be assumed that 109,760 to 194,600 eligible voters were killed. The number of voters has probably remained constant since the 1996 elections (the number of those who have come of age having been offset by the number of deaths), so the range of current eligible voters is 3.167 to 3.252 million, roughly 3.2 million. This is also the estimate arrived at by the EASC, in Case Nos. 96-183, 193 and 195, issued 25 September 1996.

17. Exactly 2,520,217 voters registered according to figures released by the OSCE on 22 August 1997.

18. The total number of Bosnian refugees not permanently settled in their host countries, including in FRY and Croatia, was estimated to be 815,000 at the start of 1997 by UNHCR. See ICG report, "Going Nowhere Fast," 30 April 1997, p. 5. Some 50,000 returned to Bosnia this year, leaving around 765,000; of which roughly 535,000 (70 percent) are eligible refugee voters.

19. In many areas, "encouragement" to register was within acceptable limits: ruling party representatives went door to door to check for registration receipts and "remind" voters of the need to register, arranged for factories to release workers early, sent buses to bring people to registration centres, and even sent registration staff to homes of elderly and disabled people. Only when benefits, salary payments or jobs were conditioned on registration did the pressure become undue.

20. DPA, Annex 3, Article IV.

21. PEC Rules, Art. 10(b).

22. PEC Rules for the September 1996 elections, published 24 July 1996, Art. 10(c).

23. ICG Report, "Elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina," 22 September 1996, at p. 21 and n. 72.

24. There are five categories of genuine ties: lawful title to real property (including occupancy rights to socially owned property so long as obtained through means consistent with the DPA); ownership of a business; invitation by an immediate family member who lived in the municipality since before the war; official confirmation of employment; and "other documentation" deemed appropriate by the Future Municipality Sub-commission established to review disputed applications. Moreover, the procedure for establishing genuine ties was quite onerous: the applicant had to complete a preliminary application, obtain a receipt, present the receipt and proper identification in person in the future municipality between 26 May and 14 June, and then assuming that the application was approved, had to return again to that future municipality to vote in person on election day. PEC Rules, Arts. 505-506, published 29 April 1997.

25. PEC Rules, Art. 10(b).

26. PEC Rules, Art. 5

27. PEC Rules, Art. 17(a)(3).

28. EASC Case No. ME-049.

29. This fraud was committed in an effort to establish citizenship pursuant to PEC Rules, Art. 17(a)(3).

30. Remarkably, no evidence was presented to the EASC concerning systematic voter registration fraud in any part of eastern Republika Srpska where the incentive for the SDS to commit fraud was especially high because of the perceived threat of exiled voters winning a majority.

31. EASC Case Nos. ME-049 of 26 May 1997 (Banja Luka, Prijedor, Gradiska, Kotor Varos, Srpski Drvar and Srpski Kljuc/Ribnik); ME-073 and 058 of 25 June (Zepce and Capljina); ME-065, ME-108 of 17 July (Jajce); ME-087, ME-103 of 17 July (Zepce); ME-074, ME-101 of 17 July (Stolac); ME-109 of 17 July (Bosanska Brod); ME-113 of 21 July (Brcko); ME-073A of 15 August (Zepce); ME-127 of 15 August (Mostar).

32. EASC Case No. ME-050, issued 26 May 1997.

33. The SDA has an edge over opposition Bosniac parties when it comes to campaigning among the refugee community. This is because the SDA still dominates the Bosnian diplomatic service, especially in the asylum countries, and also benefits from satellite broadcasts of Bosnian television (BHTV) to the refugee community.

34. Human Rights Report, OHR, 29-30 1997.

35. Media Usage in Bosnia Divides Along Ethnic Lines, USIA Opinion Analysis, 19 August 1997.

36. Institute for War & Peace Reporting and Media Plan, Monitoring Report, 7 September 1997.

37. EASC Case No. ME-127, issued 15 August 1997.

38. Monitoring Report, 7 September 1997.

39. For a more complete analysis of the division in Republika Srpska's media, see Monitoring Report, 7 September 1997.

40. Republika Srpska Independent Journalists' Association study, July 1997.

41. Fokus, 30 August 1997, p 3.

42. Odluka o rasporedu sredstava Proracuna Federacije Bosne i Hercegovine za 1997. godinu na politicke partije, 17 March 1997.

43. Oslododjenje, 30 August, p 9.

44. See section III(H) above for a description of the EOM mandate, reporting plans and staffing.

45. The report did note, as did the regular OSCE staff, that a fairly high percentage of stations experienced problems with finding names on the voters list -- see section IV(A), supra.

46. The procedures are set forth in PEC Rules, arts. 220.1-220.13, 221-26, and 234.

47. Election Implementation Plan, p. 4. PEC Rule, Art. 235.1.

48. UN Security Council Resolution 1022 (1995), 22 November 1995, para. 4 states: "The Security Council ... decides that it will terminate the ... [sanctions] on the tenth day following the occurrence of the first free and fair elections provided for in Annex 3 of the Peace Agreement". On 29 September, the PEC certified the election results. High Representative Carl Bildt characterised the elections as "calm, orderly and dignified"; he said nothing about "free and fair". Nevertheless, he reported to the UN Secretary-General that "conditions have been met for decisions envisaged in para. 4 of SC Resolution 1022 (1995)." The Security Council terminated sanctions on 1 October.

49. See ICG's reports on the September elections, 22 September and 30 October 1996.

50. Implementation Plan, p. 5.

51. PEC Rules, Art. 235.5(a).

52. PEC Rules, Art. 235.5(b).

53. This provision aims to prevent a recurrence of the situation in Mostar, where the ruling HDZ party prevented the city council to meet in the building built by the European Union Administration of Mostar for that purpose.

54. According to the 1991 Census, there were 7.7 percent Yugoslavs and others.


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