Bosnia Local Elections: Ruling SDA Loses Sarajevo and SNSD Loses Banja Luka

The biggest surprises of Bosnia’s local elections were Sarajevo and Banja Luka where the Democratic Action Party (SDA) and the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) lost their grip after decades of rule over the two cities. 

In Sarajevo, the SDA lost the municipalities of Centar, Novo Sarajevo and Ilidza, Stari Grad Municipality was once again won by Ibrahim Hadzibajric from the opposition bloc is known as the Sarajevo Four (People and Justice – NiP, Social Democratic Party – SDP, Our Party, Independent Bosnian List – NBL). 

Party Leader Bakir Izetbegovic admitted defeat saying they lost Sarajevo, but they won Bosnia. The only Municipality within Sarajevo, which they managed to hold, was Novi Grad where their candidate Semir Efendic stands to serve another four-year term. 

Other major municipalities which SDA lost or stayed out of their reach are Tuzla, Zenica, Cazin, and Bihac, which Izetbegovic commented on saying these major cities, as well as Banja Luka in the RS, are a sign that big municipalities and cities are demanding change. 

In Velika Kladusa, a convicted war criminal Fikret Abdic is in the lead for the position of the Head of the Municipality.
The strongest Bosnian-Serb party, the SNSD, also admitted defeat in Banja Luka, the administrative center of the Bosnian Serb entity called Republika Srpska. The party leader and Bosnian Presidency member Milorad Dodik said he was not happy at all that they lost the race after their candidate Igor Radojicic did a lot for that city – only to lose it to opposition candidate Drasko Stanivukovic.  

Stanivukovic said that after 22 years, an ordinary man finally got the chance to win in Banja Luka. He announced that the SNSD is afraid of his first move as mayor – the revision of all city administration contracts.  

“Our duty is to move forward and keep all hard-working and honest people while revealing all those who worked illegally and dishonestly. We are building a city without divisions in which everybody will live well”, Stanivukovic concluded. 

After having lost the election in Banja Luka, the administrative center of Bosnia’s Serb-majority entity of Republika Srpska (RS), the party of Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik announced on Monday it will freeze all entity government investments into the city because it voted against its candidate. 

“We will stop all investments from the RS Government level until we see how the city will politically develop”, said Milorad Dodik, the leader of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), after his candidate, the incumbent mayor Igor Radojcic, lost Sunday’s (15.11) local election to opposition leader Drasko Stanivukovic. 

The SNSD also stands to lose Prijedor, where their candidate is neck and neck with the opposition candidate from the Democratic People’s Alliance. 

When it comes to the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH), the strongest Bosnian-Croat Party, reported they won in Neum, Posusje, Kresevo, Zepce and Citluk. Their sister party HDZ 1990 said their candidate won the race for Prozor Rama. 

These are unofficial election results and the Central Election Commission said they will publish their first unofficial results around midnight. 

Apart from some minor issues, the main Croat party, Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH) is satisfied with its election results, party leader Dragan Covic said Monday (16.11), adding that he was glad no major incidents were reported during the election process. 

Considering the process to be democratic, Covic said that “HDZ BiH can be very satisfied for winning 20 offices for mayors/heads of municipalities and over 300 councilors. We did our job pretty well, and despite the fact we didn’t have a normal election campaign we still sent a strong message which is what we plan to do in the future. The Еlection process lasts for four years and we must start preparing for the next local elections today”, Covic said. 

Bosnia held a local election on Sunday (15.11) on the territory of the entire country, with the exception of the City of Mostar, which will hold its elections in December. 

The city has been in a deadlock for over 12 years, with two main ethnic-oriented parties in the city unable to reach a consensus over how the elections will be held. In June 2020, the largest Bosniak party – Democratic Action Party (SDA) finally inked an agreement with the HDZ BiH, thus creating conditions for democratic elections in the city. 

The agreement was signed by Bakir Izetbegovic and Dragan Covic, the leaders of the Democratic Party Action (SDA) and the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH), in presence of foreign ambassadors and Mostar’s local politicians. 

The local elections in the City of Mostar were last held in 2008. Two years later, the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina acted upon motion of Croat representatives in the state Parliament, assessing as unconstitutional parts of Bosnia’s Election Law which refer to the City Statute. 

The court tasked the state Parliament in 2010 to amend the Election Law regarding the provisions which treat the electoral rules in that city but this did not happen to date and Mostar elections remain the subject of political disagreements, mostly of two main parties in this city, the SDA and HDZ BiH which signed the deal.

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