The Dayton Peace Agreement modified the structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It created two entities – the Federation of BiH (51% of the territory, predominantly inhabited by Bosniaks, but also by Bosnian Croats) and the Republika Srpska (49% of the territory, with a majority of Bosnian Serbs) – as well as the Brcko District, which is a self-governing unit under the jurisdiction of the state.
The Republika Srpska (RS) has a centralised structure, with its own National Assembly, Government and Constitutional Court. In October 2013, according to preliminary results of the 2013 census, RS had an estimated population of 1 326 991, data on ethnicity will be published in 2014. The net average salary in 2012 was about 400 euros. In 2012 the activity rate was 47.4% and the unemployment rate 25.6%.
Striving for more autonomy
The parties representing the constituent peoples have conflicting policies. Bosniak political parties oppose regionalisation of state-level powers and see the Dayton constitution only as a step towards a stronger state-level. Croat political parties want to preserve the competences at the Canton level in the Federation of BiH and to achieve rights for Croats equal to those of the two other constituent peoples. The temporary constitutional arrangements that provide mechanisms protecting the interests of the constituent peoples or of the entities may be used to prevent any change.
Since the mid-2000s, Serb parties have agreed on the transfer of competences – the entities should keep as much autonomy as possible or even demand the return of competences previously transferred to the federal level. The RS president, Milorad Dodik—whose Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) has been dominating the entity’s government for years, aims to recover some powers transferred in the first half of the 2000s from the entity to the state-level.
Dodik questions the authority of both the EUSR/OHR and the central state. This is one reason why the US and other Western powers refuse to give a date for the closure of the Office of the High Representative (OHR). He also questions the functioning of BiH as a state and repeatedly talks of the possibility of a “peaceful dissolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina“. In May 2011, only after a meeting with EU HR/VP Catherine Ashton, RS President Dodik agreed to cancel a referendum, which would have challenged the jurisdiction of the two highest judicial institutions of BiH on RS territory. Polls have shown that a majority in RS supports independance.
Local Elections 7 Oct 2012
SNSD lost 26 mayoral posts. The main winner was the Serb Democratic Party (SDS), a right-wing party which doubled its number of mayoral seats. The success of the SDS has raised eyebrows because SDS members (Radovan Karadžić, Biljana Plavšić…) played an important role in the 1992-1995 Bosnian War, and have been found guilty of crimes against humanity in international courts. The SDS isconsidered to be even more nationalist than the SNSD. The vote was particularly tense in Srebrenica, where the Serb candidate came from SDS, but eventually the Bosniak party won.
2013 Progress report
The Government of Republika Srpska’s administrative capacity to monitor EU-related legislation is considered satisfactory, but coordination and cooperation with the State-level and Federation Governments need to improve. The rule of law chapter of the Commission’s 2013 Progress Report criticises the non-removal of Article 11(2) of the Constitution (death penalty).