04 October 2011

BiH: Finally Good at Something

Bosnia: Good at government deadlock

Bosnia and Herzegovina just went one year without a government at state level. What is more, prospects the government will be formed any time soon are dim.

Agreement between the parties that won the election proved impossible on a number of specific, technical issues. The essence of the deadlock, however, is that there is no government because aggressive politics pursued jointly by the OHR and the main Muslim parties alienated the main parties of the Croats and of the Serbs from Sarajevo. Fed up, they are sending a message of no business as usual. Either the SDS and SDA and their international sponsors adjust course, or they will in Serb and Croat parties have a collocutor difficult enough to ensure that there will be no government — a situation with which their constituents are perfectly happy since they have no stake in the state in the first place, but are always happy to point out its dysfunction.

It seems likely they will remain happy for a while longer. Though the central state going without a valid cabinet of ministers should be a cause of concern for super-centralizers like the SDS and SDA this does not seem to be the case in BiH. Probably calculating a crisis makes increased foreign involvement likelier the Muslim parties have not budged an inch.

Politicians always have an incentive to cooperate, so there is an ever present danger political parties involved will leave principles aside and rush into each others' arms, but until that happens Bosnians and Herzegovians will continue to enjoy an existence plagued by one cabinet of ministers less and BiH will remain hot on the heels of Belgium, the reigning world champion of political deadlock and not having a government.

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