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Mostar holds first local election in 12 years


Mostar holds first local election in 12 years

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The Bosnian city of Mostar will hold local elections for the first time in 12 years today.

Mostar was the face of Bosnian ethnic conflict of the 1990s and remains largely divided on ethnic lines. The west of the city is primarily populated by ethnic Croats and the east by Muslim Bosniaks. Ethnic tensions have caused political deadlock and a collapse of municipal institutions as the sides were unable to agree on electoral boundaries. Today’s election was finally agreed upon in 2019 following a European Court of Human Rights ruling after a Mostar politician sued the Bosnian government for failing to hold elections.

Today’s elections will be a powerful signal to Bosnians and Europeans alike that the country is interested in resolving its ethnic issues and pursuing further European integration. Bosnia has sought accession to the EU since the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords and 76% of Bosnians favour EU membership. The idea of integration can help drive conflict settlement, but a 2019 EU ruling that blocked membership on 14 key priorities (after 15 years of negotiations) has disincentivised Bosnian politicians from further attempts. Today’s elections may inspire further collaboration between the ethnic blocs and a restart to Europeanisation attempts.

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