Bosnia: Voter participation at 37.2 percent

By Talha Ozturk

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) – Bosnia and Herzegovina on Sunday held presidential and parliamentary elections — the eighth in the country since the end of the Bosnian War nearly 20 years ago.

Central Election Commission (CIK) President Branko Petric said in a press conference before the polls were closed that as of 3.00 p.m. (1300GMT), voter participation was at 37.2 percent.

Some 3.35 million people were expected to vote at 5,794 polling stations.

One of the country's two entities, Republika Srpska (RS), said via a statement from the Interior Ministry that a ballot box had been damaged due to a brawl in a voting center in the northeastern city of Bijeljina. Voting was suspended for an hour.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has two entities, 10 cantons, and an autonomous region. The country's complex political structure, the crippling economic crisis and memories of the war make the election even more complicated.

Voters choose representatives of the national parliament, the three-member national presidency, the parliaments of the country’s two entities and other bodies.

They elect parliamentarians of the two councils — the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBIH) and the Republika Srpska (RS), the country's two constitutional entities.

They also vote for members of the Bosnian federation's 10 cantons.

Fifteen candidates — six Bosnians, five Croats, four Serbs — competed for the rotating chairmanship of the three-member Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

– Bosnian candidates

Sefik Dzaferovic (Party of Democratic Action-SDA), Fahrudin Radoncic (Union for a Better Future of BiH), Denis Becirovic (Social Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina), Senad Sepic (Independent Block-NB), Mirsad Hadzikadic (Independent candidate), Amer Jerlagic (Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina).

– Croat candidates

Democratic Union-HDZ BiH), Jerko Ivankovic Lijanovic (People's Party for Work and Betterment), Diana Zelenika (Croatian Democratic Union 1990), Borisa Flatar (Our Party-NS), Zeljko Komsic (Democratic Front-DF).

– Serb candidates

Milorad Dodik (Alliance of Independent Social Democrats-SNSD), Mirjana Popovic (Serbian Progressive Party-SNS), Gojko Klickovic (First Serbian Democratic Party-Prva SDS), Mladen Ivanic (Alliance for Victory)

– 67 political parties, 34 independent candidates, 34 alliances

The Bosnia and Herzegovina election authority has cleared 67 political parties to participate in the elections. This is the highest figure since the 2002 elections.

The elections also saw 34 independent candidates and 34 alliances at various levels of the state functions.

In total nearly 7,500 candidates are running for 518 posts, an average of 14 candidates for each post.

The first results are expected at midnight local time Sunday (2200GMT).