Even after the announcement of the final election results, consultations about the formation of any post-election coalitions still haven't started. The reason is simple - elections still aren't over! The way in which the Election Commission distributed the so-called compensation seats in the Bosnian and entity parliaments had been questioned even before the official results were announced. At this moment legislative and executive authorities can be formed only where directly elected candidates or one of the political parties have a clear majority.
Therefore, at this moment only the names of the three members of the Presidency of Bosnia-Hercegovina and three members of the Presidency of the Republic of Srpska, who were elected directly, are known. There is a clear majority in parliaments of four, out of ten, cantons [in the Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina]. The coalition of the HDZ, Christian Democrats and the HNZ has a majority in Herceg-Bosna, Western Hercegovina cantons and exactly a half of seats in the parliament of Hercegovina-Neretva canton. The SDA has a clear majority only in Zenica-Doboj canton.
After the previous election, held in November 2000, two months of negotiations were needed to set up the Alliance for Changes. After this election negotiations about creation of possible coalitions still haven't started. The only confirmed public meeting akin to such negotiations took place in the headquarters of the SDA, with visitors from the HDZ. In tumultuous history of mutual relations during the last 12 years these two political parties signed numerous agreements but never did sign a coalition agreement of any sort. Consequently, even after the meeting between presidents of the HDZ and SDA, Barisa Colak and Sulejman Tihic respectively, it is not possible to talk about a post-election coalition. In his statements, Barisa Colak did not even mention his meeting with the leaders of the SDA. He explained that "the HDZ has had discussions with many political parties in hope of setting up new authorities at all levels". "In that we did not discuss coalitions as such. Instead we talked about cooperation that will set conditions for a stable majority in the parliament, as well as a governments that will be able to implement decisions," Colak said.
"Natural distribution of power": After the meeting in Sarajevo, the HDZ and the SDA "called on other political parties to join them and set up a majority in the parliament". This invitation was not a mere formality. If the current election results remain valid, the SDA and the HDZ-led coalition have 48 seats in the Federation parliament (SDA 32 and HDZ coalition 16). The Party for BH (SBiH) and the SDP have 15 seats each, while the remaining 20 seats are distributed among 14 political parties. Therefore, 48 seats of the "Bosniak-Croat coalition" need support of at least some of the remaining 50 representatives to form a majority. The other option is for "someone" to somehow cobble together a coalition of these 16 parties with 50 representatives in the parliament.
The concept promoted by the SDA and the HDZ is simple. "SDA has people for Bosniak seats in the government," while "the coalition of Croat parties has people for the Croat quota". The session of the HDZ Presidency which analyzed election results and possible post-election cooperation concluded that the Coalition of the Croat parties "received absolute support of the Croat electorate and has a clear mandate to represent Croats in the executive authorities at all levels". Therefore, post-election cooperation in this case goes back to the model described in 1991 as "natural division of power in Bosnia-Hercegovina" in which parties receive "mandates from their nations" to appoint their representatives in the executive authorities. Adnan Terzic, one of vice-presidents of the SDA, explains that "according to the Constitution, three nations receive certain quotas of offices in the executive authorities. At this moment, the SDA is mostly concerned about possible ways to achieve majority and fill Croat and Serb quotas". A precondition for such political representation is a division into three ethnic entities, so that the state organization is based on ethnic-territorial organization. The structure of Bosnia-Hercegovina set up in Dayton is different. It is based on two "multiethnic entities". The procedure for protection of interests of ethnic groups is regulated by the Constitution and laws, rather than by the mandate of any political party to represent any nation. Election results indicate that, however, the model of "natural division of power" is much more widely accepted within Bosnia-Hercegovina. Therefore, Croats, majority of whom obviously voted for the HDZ, expect that precisely the HDZ-led coalition represent them in the executive authorities.
Elected and compensated: Electoral district 10 covers the West-Hercegovina canton (canton number 8) and directly elects three representatives to the parliament. All three elected representatives are from the HDZ-led coalition. On the other end of Bosnia-Hercegovina, electoral district 2, which consists of Posavina canton (canton number 2), and parts of the canton number 3 (Gradacac, Gracanica, Doboj-Istok) and voters from the Brcko District registered to vote in Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina), directly elects 5 members of the parliament. Out of 5 directly elected representatives the only elected Croat is again from the HDZ-led coalition. In the elections for the local council in Zepce, the HDZ won 12 seats, while the New Croatian Initiative (NHI) won only one, although most NHI officials and candidates come from Zepce. In the Federation Parliament the NHI won all together 2 seats. One of the representatives was directly elected in central Bosnia, while the other one was a compensation seat based on votes from a part of the Sarajevo canton. Other parties with ethnic Croat representatives in the Federation Parliament received exclusively compensation seats (Economic Block, HKDU, HP Block, HSP BH, etc.). Karlo Filipovic who was, as ethnic Croat, the president of the Federation BH in 2001, was directly elected as the first candidate on the SDP list of candidates in electoral district 7 (Novi Grad-Sarajevo, Ilidza, Hadzici and Trnovo) with 3,259 votes, which is a third of votes the SDP received in this electoral district. Five remaining representatives directly elected in this electoral district are Bosniaks from the SDA and SBiH.
The case of Josip Pojavnik (HDZ), the only Croat directly elected in electoral district 5 (Doboj-Jug, Tesanj, Maglaj, Zepce, Zavidovici, Zenica, and Usora), is interesting. In 2001 his vote in the Parliament of the Zenica-Doboj canton allowed the Alliance for Changes to set up executive authorities in the canton. At the and of his mandate, in the midst of fighting within the Alliance, Pojavnik said that he had to "admit that my vote for the Alliance was a mistake".
In 2000 the SDA had the best result in this canton, but was the only party left outside the majority coalition. At these elections the SDA on its own won a clear majority and has 20 out of 35 seats in the cantonal parliament. The SDA can rule on its own in Zenica-Doboj canton but the constitutional changes have set up serious obstacles in its way. First, it remains to be seen whether, even with a clear majority, the SDA will behave as a purely Bosniak party, offering "Croat quota in the government" to the HDZ coalition representatives and seeking someone to fill "the Serb quota". Mirsad Zaimovic, president of the cantonal organization of the SDA announced that the SDA wants "to take responsibility for the government in the canton and will appoint the necessary number of Serbs and Croats to the local authorities. It is most likely that they will not be members of any party. We shall not permit other parties to appoint people for the Serb and Croat quotas, but will make offers on our own. If they accept our offers, they will be our candidates".
In the Republic of Srpska the SDA won three seats in northern and one in eastern Bosnia-Hercegovina and two compensation seats. In the western part of Srpska the SBiH won two seats. The SDP won two seats in Posavina and one compensation seat. The NHI won one compensation seat in the National Parliament of Srpska, while the HDZ-led coalition has no representatives from Srpska. SDP's candidate was elected for the Croat and SDA's candidate for the Bosniak vice-president of Srpska. The election results from Srpska significantly diminish the strength of arguments about the legitimacy of national parties from the Federation BH. The national legitimacy of the SDS is also doubtful, as it does not have any representatives in the Federation BH. These results confirm that these parties are nothing but political parties of certain groups within a certain nation, rather than the only representatives of a particular nation.
"Moderates" without leader: Other cantons also lack a clear answer. The SDA and the HDZ have a clear majority in Central-Bosnian and Hercegovina-Neretva cantons. The SDP and the SBiH have a slim majority in Bosnia-Podrinje canton, a majority in Sarajevo canton, but will need assistance from DNZ and BOSS to form governments in Bihac and Tuzla.
In the Parliament of Bosnia-Hercegovina and in the National Parliament of the Republic of Srpska, the SDA obviously cannot apply the model of "natural division of power" with the SDS, while other Serb parties refuse to cooperate.
The SDP, as the biggest loser of these elections, is calling for a new ruling coalition. That coalition would again be a conglomerate of numerous small political parties and be based on exclusion of national parties from the executive authorities. Clifford Bond, US ambassador in Bosnia-Hercegovina, says that "coalition of moderate parties is possible at different levels of authorities". "The best solution would be if the authorities were formed by moderate parties. I am afraid that formation of authorities based on coalitions of national parties could only slow down the process of integration of Bosnia-Hercegovina in Europe. European institutions, which are the most important partners of Bosnia-Hercegovina, will not accept national parties as their partners," Bond asserted. For now, two preconditions are lacking for such a coalition. Firstly, the final confirmation of the election results, and secondly it is unclear who will put together such a coalition of numerous small parties, and secure its stability and efficiency. Neither Silajdzic (SBiH), who rejects offers from the SDP and the SDA in favor of the non-existent BH unity government, nor Lagumdzija who does not even have support within the SDP, are candidates for that task. Ivanic (PDP), Dodik (SNSD), Lijanovic or Zubak (NHI) also lack potential for such a role.
As both the SDA and the HDZ are announcing that they will appeal the way in which the compensating seats were distributed all the way to the Council of Europe, if necessary, three denouements are possible. One is that we shall have legal authorities, which do not have legitimacy in any of the three Bosnian nations. The second one that we shall have legitimate authorities [supported by all three Bosnian nations] that will not be accepted within Europe as a partner for integration; the third outcome is the most worrisome. It is possible that because of delays and disputes regarding the implementation of election results the internal collapse of Bosnia-Hercegovina will be speeded up.