BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Parliamentary Chamber: Predstavnicki dom

ELECTIONS HELD IN 1996

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Chamber:
  Predstavnicki dom


Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  14 September 1996


Purpose of elections:

  Direct elections were held for all the seats of the new House of Representatives in accordance with the terms of the November 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement. General elections had previously been held in November/December 1990, prior to independence.


Background and outcome of elections:

  A former constituent republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence in March 1992.

The aftermath of independence was marked by continuing tension and clashes between the country's Muslim, Serb and Croat ethnic groups. Finally, in December 1995, these three factions put an end to the four-year civil war by signing the Dayton peace agreement. This accord divided Bosnia into two separate regions and provided, inter alia, for the creation of a central republican government with a collective presidency and a republican legislature, with two-thirds (28) of the legislative seats allocated to representatives of the Moslem-Croat entity (formally called the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and one-third (14) to the Serb entity (Republika Srpska). It also stipulated that democratic elections should be held under international observation at the earliest opportunity. To this end, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) was asked to establish a provisional election commission and to ensure that the basic human rights referred to in the accord were being granted. The OSCE was also delegated to set an election date once it had certified that the requirements of the accord were indeed being met by the three factions.

On 25 June, OSCE Chairman Flavio Cotti of Switzerland formally certified the polling date of 14 September, although acknowledging that conditions to ensure a free and fair election had not yet been put in place. The legislative poll at the national level was scheduled to coincide with five others for the Bosnian collective (three-member) presidency, the executive of the Serb entity, the legislatures of the two entities and the cantonal assemblies of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Altogether nearly 3500 candidates from 29 parties contested all these posts.

Among the eligible voters were some 641,000 registered refugees residing abroad. In an effort to maximise participation, foreign peacekeeping troops strove to facilitate internal border crossings to allow for voting in districts of origin. On polling day, Mr. Alija Izetbegovic, a Moslem candidate, won the highest number of votes in the collective presidential race followed by Mr. Momcilo Krajisnik (Bosnian Serb) and Mr. Kresimir Zubak (Bosnian Croat). Mr. Izetbegovic, the incumbent Bosnian President, belonged to the Party for Democratic Action (SDA), while Mr. Krajisnik was supported by the Serb Democratic Party (SDS) and Mr. Zubak by the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). In the House of Representatives contests, the SDA emerged on top with 16 of the 42 seats, trailed by SDS (nine) and HDZ (eight); all three - leaders of the outgoing Assembly - were nationalist groups favouring a certain dialogue with the other ethnic communities about the future of the country, contrary to the views of the opposition, ultra-nationalist parties. The OSCE, which supervised the voting, acknowledged that the voting process generally proceeded in an unobjectionable manner but the ruling parties dominated the mass media during the campaign, that there was little free movement between the Serb and Muslim-Croat areas, and that opposition politicians had been regularly harassed. In this context, the observers noted, the elections could not be termed "free, fair and democratic".

On 3 January 1997, all elected Representatives met for the first time and appointed a Council of Ministers proposed by the collective presidency; it is headed by two co-chairmen: Mr. Haris Silajdzic, a Muslim, and Mr. Boro Bosic, a Serb.

STATISTICS
Round no 1 (14 September 1996): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 2,900,000 (approx.)
Voters 2,396,000 (approx.)

Round no 1: Distribution of votes. Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina contingent (28 seats)  
Political Group Votes %
Party for Democratic Action (SDA) 725,417 54.4
Croat Democratic Party (HDZ) 338,440 23.4
United List 105,918 9.4
Party of Bosnia-Herzegovina 93,816 7.2
Round no 1: Distribution of votes. Republika Srpska contingent: 14 seats  
Political Group Votes %
Serb Democratic Party (SDS) 578,723 54.4
Party for Democratic Action (SDA) 184,553 17.8
People's Union for Peace (Union for the Peace and Progress) 135,077 12.8

Round no 1: Distribution of seats. Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina contingent (28 seats)  
Political Group Total
Party for Democratic Action (SDA) 16
Croat Democratic Party (HDZ) 8
United List 2
Party of Bosnia-Herzegovina 2
Round no 1: Distribution of seats. Republika Srpska contingent: 14 seats  
Political Group Total
Serb Democratic Party (SDS) 9
Party for Democratic Action (SDA) 3
People's Union for Peace (Union for the Peace and Progress) 2


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Copyright 1996 Inter-Parliamentary Union