RS President Milorad Dodik's SNSD lost its control in most of municipalities, while SDA won the majority of votes.
By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 08/10/12
Citizens cast their votes in Sunday's (October 7th) elections in Banja Luka. [Drazen Remikovic/SETimes]
More than 5,000 polling stations closed at 7pm on Sunday (October 7th), after nearly 3 million Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens voted in the municipal elections.
According to data from the Central Electiion Commission, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), led by Sulejman Tihic, was the victor with 34 municipalities, while the Serbian Democratic Party, together with their minor coalition partners, won 27 municipalities.
The Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), led by Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik, was the biggest loser of in the elections, winning 15 municipalities.
Until the vote, Dodik's SNSD was in power in 41 municipalities.
Predrag Kovac, the newly elected mayor of the East Ilidza municipality said that citizens punished irresponsible authorities through their votes.
"SNSD has made many mistakes and alienated itself from the people," SDS candidate Kovac told SETimes. "People have recognised this and punished them. I believe that these elections are an overture to the general election and I think that much will change in the next election on the state level."
Citizens voted for 78 municipal councils in the Bosniak-Croat Federation entity, 58 municipal and five city councils in RS, 136 municipality mayors and five city mayors in the country, and for the Brcko District council.
About 87 political parties participated in the elections, 59 coalitions and 224 independent candidates. The 3,144,296 registered voters had the opportunity to chose among 30,351 candidates.
According to the election commission, 56.3 percent of voters turned out for the election -- 11 percent more than voted in the 2008 local elections.
Asim Mujkic, a professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Sarajevo, said citizens have shown politicians the they are less interested in the identity questions and that the greater focus is on the economy and standard of living.
"Turnout was higher than for the last election, which shows the desire of people to change things. People send a message to politicians that their physical existence is currently more important to them wheather on who's who in the national or religious sense," Mujkic told SETimes.
The electoral process proceeded without major incident -- 1,260 accredited observers oversaw the vote.
"The right won, the left lost, there is no doubt about that. However, we need to ask ourselves what have we, from the Social Democratic Party, done for the past 4 years if we have mannaged to lose the elections in the of greatest economic crisis and poverty. Something needs to change inside the parties," Slobodan Popovic, vice president of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which won three new local positions, but lost five, told SETimes.
Some citizens agreed.
Sarajevo resident Mirvad Karadaglic, 28, said that the change in the political scene was necessary.
"I didn't go out to vote on last elections because I felt that my vote could not affect the change in government. However, I realised that no one else can make a difference except myself. And because the party I voted for won, I now can say that I succeeded," Karadaglic told SETimes.