Bosnians to vote, fate of constitution in balance

AP News
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Posted: Oct 11, 2014 6:56 AM

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Bosnians are voting Sunday in general elections that will show whether people are more concerned over jobs and EU integration or nationalist aspirations toward secession. Whoever wins will face the challenge of a constitutional reform. The current governing system is a result of a constitutional arrangement was part of a peace agreement that ended the country's 1992-95 war. It created two entities: Bosniac-Croat Federation and Republika Srpska.

Who is being elected?

Some 3.3 million voters will choose over 500 officials, including a three-member state presidency and parliament.

Voters in Republika Srpska will also vote for a president and a parliament of Republika Srpska. Voters in the Bosniac-Croat federation will chose lawmakers for their regional parliament and for parliaments of 10 cantons.

What are the issues?

All sides in Bosnia agree the current constitutional arrangement needs changing. They disagree on how. Bosnian Serbs would like an independent state. Muslim Bosniaks, the majority in the other region, seek a more centralized state. Catholic Bosnian Croats would like to have their own mini-state within Bosnia.

Who is running?

In Republika Srpska, the competition is between the incumbent president, Milorad Dodik, and his opponents in the Serb Democratic party, SDS, that ruled during the war. Dodik has built his campaign on promises of independence and Russian support. The SDS has accused Dodik's administration of corruption.

In the Bosniak-Croat federation, the race is between the ruling Social Democrats, a new party called the Democratic Front and the Party of Democratic Action that led the Bosniacs during the war and is lately trying to attract supporters of other nationalities. A series of mass protests and riots shocked the federation in February. Protesters demanded more social justice, a review of the dubious privatization that left thousands jobless and a serious fight against corruption.