Nationalists strengthen Bosnia hold

October 6, 2008 12:00 am

, SARAJEVO, October 6 – Serb nationalists further strengthened their dominance in Bosnia’s Serb-run half in municipal elections held over the weekend, partial results showed on Monday.

In the Muslim-Croat entity, nationalists also won most of the mayoral posts, the electoral commission said.

Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik’s Social Democrats saw their candidates elected mayor in 32 municipalities, the commission said.

It was a major strengthening of the party on local level since the 2004 local elections when it took control of 15 municipalities.

Dodik’s campaign was the most hardline and focused on strengthening of Serbs’ autonomy within ethnically-divided Bosnia rather than on issues of local interest.

Since the end of the 1992-1995 war, Bosnia has been split into two semi-independent entities, the Serbs’ Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation. They are linked by weak central institutions while each has its own government.

The Muslim nationalist Party of Democratic Action (SDA) was the most successful in Bosnia’s Muslim-Croat half, winning mayoral elections in 28 municipalities.

The nationalist Croat Democratic Union also performed strongly in mainly Croat municipalities as its candidates will be mayors in 15 towns.

More than three million Bosnians were eligible to elect 140 mayors and local councils in 149 municipalities after a campaign marked by widespread nationalistic rhetoric and a near-absolute neglect of local issues.

Turnout was 55 percent, higher than in previous 2004 local elections, and much higher than analysts predicted.

Monday’s results were partial and preliminary, the commission said without providing the percentage of the votes counted nor results for municipal councils.


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