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Contributing to democracy in Europe – AEGEE observing the Bosnian elections

On 12th of October 2014, 17 student members of AEGEE-Europe from 7 different countries were observing the general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Country is divided into two different entities, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and Republika Srpska (RS), of which both were visited. The observers, in teams of two, visited 45 rural and urban polling stations in district Sarajevo.

Minor irregularities were noticed in five polling stations, for example usage of wrongly coloured ballot box sealing, overcrowding of the polling station and voting outside the voting booth.

The complexity of the constitutional set up of Bosnia and Herzegovina is reflected in its electoral system. There were four different ballots comprising majority and preference voting. On national level (RS and FBiH), citizens voted for the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency and the House of Representatives of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliamentary Assembly. In FBiH citizens voted for the House of Representatives of the FBiH Parliament and the Cantonal Assemblies. However, in RS, people voted for President, Vice President and the National Assembly. Because of this system, reading through the ballots was a lengthy process and each individual voting could take up to several minutes.

However, the commitment of polling station officials was remarkable. Counting procedures generally went on until the early morning up to 24 hours. Polling station officials were composed equally with regard to gender and consisted mostly of young people. Their performance was observed by approximately 4 to 12 domestic party observers, who were mainly young as well. In contrast, younger voters were underrepresented.

The election observers’ overall impression on the polling process was very positive. We would like to thank OSCE and the Central Election Commission for the successful cooperation.

Report written by Jan Liebnitzky and Boudewijn Steenhof on behalf of all the 17 observers.

Pictures by Thomas Leszke and Marije Arentze.