It took 15 months for the six ruling parties to form the state government after the October 2010 elections, but recent moves would break up the coalition after only five months.
By Anes Alic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 06/06/12
"We will not accept the dismissal of our officials," SDA Vice President Semsudin Mehmedovic said. [File]
The Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) government is facing another major political crisis as ruling coalition parties move to evict the main Bosniak party and fire its ministers. If successful, the move would break up the coalition only five months after it was formed.
The political crisis emanates from a dispute over the state budget for 2012, which was approved last week by parliament, but was disputed by the main Bosniak Party for Democratic Action (SDA), a member of the ruling coalition.
On Saturday (June 2nd), the moderate Social Democratic Party (SDP), a member of the six-party ruling coalition, won the support of four other member parties to evict the SDA from the coalition cantonal, entity and state levels. The party also got the green light to sign a co-operation agreement with SDA's rivals in the opposition, the Bosniak Alliance for the Better Future of Bosnia.
On the cantonal level, within the Federation entity, the SDP acted against the SDA unilaterally to dismiss ministers in four cantons in which the SDP enjoys majority support.
As BiH works on important reforms necessary for European integration, the SDA's expected move to block reforms as it jockeys to reposition itself will set the country back.
The SDP has already dismissed SDA ministers in four of the Federation's cantons. The SDA is promising retribution and has vowed to fire SDP ministers in three cantons where they have the majority of votes.
BiH's state parliament must still approve the dismissal of ministers -- but theoretically, the SDA could block the motion.
"We will not accept the dismissal of our officials. Their mandates were given to them by voters and not granted by the SDP or any other party," SDA Vice President Semsudin Mehmedovic told SETimes.
After a half year of preparation, and at the eleventh hour before the country's institutions went bankrupt, the state parliament approved the state budget for 2012 on May 31st.
The draft legislation was for 700m euros, out of which 475m euros is earmarked for state institutions. The remainder will go towards servicing the country's foreign debt.
SDA officials voted against the budget, demanding an additional 27m euros to finance state institutions.
"For us, the proposed and adopted budget represents more than savings -- it is a direct attack on state institutions, as the money allocated is not enough to keep them functioning effectively. If entity budgets can enjoy an increase of 10%, and there is money to purchase airplanes and to spend millions on irrelevant projects, then there must be money for the normal functioning of state institutions," Mehmedovic told SETimes.
However, SDP officials claim this is disingenuous of the SDA -- and that the dispute goes beyond the budget.
"Recently, the SDA started moving towards a type of radicalisation and was the only obstructive force, rejecting all reforms on all institutional levels. Most likely, SDA officials are attempting, by going too far to the right, to radicalise Bosniak voters," SDP President and BiH Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija told a press conference.
The biggest loser will be the country's citizens, according to Adis Arapovic, head of the Bosnian think tank Centre for Civil Initiatives (CCI).
"The political parties will gain from this crisis -- as the recent development only represents the early start of the campaign for October local elections," Arapovic told SETimes.
Gradimir Gojer from the opposition Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina told SETimes that even though the SDA was the only party to vote against the 2012 budget, it cannot be blamed for the lack of progress on all fronts.
"The ruling coalition, as it was in the last five months and as it will be after the reconstruction, is not natural and no one can expect any major breakthroughs from them. It is clear that in Bosnia and Herzegovina there is no political platform or ideology. There is only private interest and a struggle for positions," Gojer said.