by ‘Janez Kovac’
The most frenzied and virulent election campaign ever seen since Bosnia became independent has left voters dazed and disenchanted with mainstream political parties. Polls show that undecided voters are about the only growing section of the electorate. Politicians have hurled ferocious abuse at each other, dug up real or imagined scandals, and engaged in a whole new school of dirty tricks even at the risk of plunging the country into financial ruin. Most of them ignore concrete issues like the economy, better social services, the rule of law and human rights. Blind to growing public frustration with the deteriorating economic and social situation, many local news organisations have enthusiastically joined in, supporting their political favourites and brutally attacking opponents. The dirtiest brawl is between SDP and SzBiH, the two parties which established the Alliance for Change coalition and controlled a slim majority at Federation and state level after the 2000 election. Partly because of its slim majority, the Alliance failed to implement fully its pledges on economic, social and legal reform and effectively fell apart over the past few months despite strong international support. In the other Bosnian entity - Republika Srpska (RS) - the battle is just as vicious. The nationalist Serb Democratic Party (SDS) is trying to blame the Party of Democratic Progress (PDP) and RS premier Mladen Ivanic who leads it for the dire economic and social situation. For its part, the PDP is showing an increasingly nationalistic face. The main RS opposition leader Milorad Dodik and his Party of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) hammer away at both SDS and PDP with charges of corruption.
Janez Kovac is the pseudonym of a Sarajevo-based journalist. This description is cited from IWPR'S Balkan Crisis Report, No. 364, 4 September 2002