A delegation from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (CoE) carried out an election observation mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, to observe the elections for the ten cantonal assemblies in the FBiH and the vote in the Brcko District, as a part of the general elections organized on October 7 in the entire country.
The delegation, led by United Kingdom’s Stewart Dickson, was composed of 18 observers from 17 different countries who were deployed in some 150 polling stations in all 10 cantons of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In his preliminary conclusions, the head of the delegation stated that the Election Day was generally orderly and well prepared and that the majority of the members of the election commissions were able to manage the process despite difficult conditions.
However, he underlined inconsistencies on how to cast the four ballots in the ballot boxes, as well as the question of identifying the party affiliation of members of the election commissions.
“We saw repeatedly cases of assisted voting and were not convinced that all this assistance was actually justified; we believe that there is room for improvement regarding the secrecy of the vote”, Dickson stressed mentioning the slowness and length of the voting procedure as another area of concern.
The head of the delegation underlined that the general elections - involving important decisions for the entire country and being held on the same day - have clearly overshadowed the cantonal part of these elections; given the importance of competences of cantons in the FBiH, and also the role of the cantons in the complicated structure of institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“We believe that cantonal elections should be held together with the local elections - and not with general elections”, Dickson said. “This would do justice to the role of cantons and make it easier for the citizens to make an informed decision on the Election Day, it would also be conducive for clearer competences between the municipalities and the cantonal level and therefore an important element to strengthen local democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, he added.
“Together with other decisions in the local and regional context that could open up a way out of stagnation - I will only mention here the example of the long overdue local elections in Mostar - this could strengthen the trust of citizens in the institutions and the political class, since disenchantment with politics, lack of perspectives and disorientation are - as we all know - the fundamental and overarching problem of this country”, concluded the Head of the delegation.