by Sasa BIZIC
Census: Poll participants were asked the following question: "if the elections were held tomorrow, which party would you vote for?" The question referred to elections for all levels of authorities - BH Presidency, BH Parliament, president and vice-president of the Republic of Srpska (RS), RS Parliament, Federation BH Parliament, and ten cantonal parliaments.
Results of the poll were presented in two categories. The first one refers to the attitudes of all poll participants. Since this category includes a certain number of individuals who are not sure whether or for whom they will vote, as well as those who refused to answer, in this article we shall focus on the results from the second category, including only decided voters, because the authors of the poll also agree that this category gives a much better indication of the support political parties can expect on the election day.
Given that the candidates for the three-member BH Presidency still haven't been announced, the poll asked the following question: "Which party's candidate would you vote for?" Already decided voters, ethnic Serbs, gave the following answers: 45 percent would support a candidate of the Serb Democratic party (SDS), 16 percent would vote for a representative of the Party of Democratic Progress (PDP), 15 percent for a candidate of the Union of Independent Socialdemocrats (SNSD), 8 percent for a candidate of the Socialist Party of the Republic of Srpska (SPRS), and 4 percent for a candidate of the Serb Radical Party (SRS), if the SRS was allowed to run its candidates in the election. The NDI poll does not mention parties that do not cross election census of three percent.
37 percent of ethnic Bosniak voters would support a candidate of the Socialdemocratic Party of Bosnia-Hercegovina (SDP BiH), 30 percent a candidate of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), 21 percent a candidate of the Party for Bosnia-Hercegovina (SBiH), and six percent a candidate of the Bosnian Party (BOSS). The overwhelming majority of ethnic Croat voters would support a candidate of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) - 67 percent. Ten percent of polled ethnic Croat voters would vote for an SDP BiH candidate, while seven percent each would support candidates of the New Croatian Initiative (NHI) and the Croatian Party of Rights (HSP).
Disproportion: Eight parties from both entities can count on seats in the BH Parliament. According to the poll, most decided voters would vote for Zlatko Lagumdzija's SDP BiH - 20 percent. SDS, with 16 percent, and SDA with 15 percent follow. The HDZ and SBiH received 9 percent each, and Milorad Dodik's SNSD and Mladen Ivanic's PDP seven percent each. Mirnes Ajanovic's BOSS is the last party likely to exceed the census with 3 percent of voters.
Regarding the elections for the president and vice-president of the RS and the RS parliament, political parties show identical results: SDS 40 percent, SNSD 21 percent, PDP 18 percent, SPRS 6 percent, SRS four percent, and SDP BiH four percent. If these results are compared with NDI's opinion poll from November 2000, the trend of redirection of the support for small parties towards the large ones, chiefly SNSD and PDP, is obvious.
According to the poll, the following political parties would win seats in the Federation BH Parliament: SDP (33 percent of voters), SDA (23 percent), HDZ and SBiH (14 percent each), and BOSS (5 percent). Mirnes Ajanovic's party has improved its rating fivefold since the last elections!
Question: "to what extent do you approve or disapprove the actions of the following politicians?" prompted very interesting replies, given the disproportion between the individual rating of leaders of certain political parties and the standing of the parties they lead. More than 50 percent of poll participants partially or fully support the work of the Prime Minister of Srpska Mladen Ivanic, which exceeds the support enjoyed by his party, PDP, three times. Regarding the SDS, the relation between the popularity of the leading three politicians and the party is significantly more balanced, but the order is interesting. The President of Srpska Mirko Sarovic is first, vice-president Dragan Cavic second, and the president of the Srpska parliament Dragan kalinic third. Milorad Dodik and Zivko Radisic conclude the list of politicians with more than 30 percent positive grades. The difference is that Dodik, besides politicians from the Federation, is the only politician out of them with more than 30 percent negative grades. The former Prime Minister of Srpska is facing the opposite situation compared with Ivanic. While the president of the PDP will have to remind voters that he leads that party, Dodik is forced to try to convince the voters that he has nothing to do with the SNSD, the party he leads.
Priorities: The overview of answers in all six election units indicates that only SPRS has relatively balanced support in all regions, because their rating varies between three and eight percent (worst in Prijedor, best in Doboj). The three strongest political parties in Srpska are obviously struck by the hometown syndrome. The SDS enjoys the support of 60 percent of voters in Trebinje and 59 percent in Srpsko Sarajevo, compared with 27 percent in Banja Luka; the PDP enjoys the support of 27 percent of voters in Banja Luka, and 12 percent in Prijedor; the SNSD is the strongest in Prijedor (40 percent) and Banja Luka (31 percent), but their rating falls as we move towards the east, so that in Hercegovina they can count on 8 percent of voters. The Serb Radical Party shows the opposite trend. While in Prijedor and Banja Luka they do not pass the census, in the other four election units, in the east of Srpska, they do.
The statistics in the regions gives hope to the parties that are unable to pass the census on the entity level. The Serb National Union (SNS) exceeds the census in Prijedor with four percent of voters (even though the individual rating of the leader of the Democratic National Union (DNS) Dragan Kostic in Srpska is somewhat better than that of the leader of the SNS Branislav Lolic) and the Retired Persons' Party meets the census in Doboj where it enjoys the support of three percent of likely voters.
The NDI analysis offers a few comical details that illustrate somewhat strange reasoning characteristic of this region.
When making the decision for which party to vote, voters in Srpska take into account, as the most important issues, employment (32 percent), and corruption (24 percent), but that does not stop them from supporting the SDS which at one point lost power precisely because of the deficit of the former and surplus of the latter. Furthermore, national interests are on the fifth spot on the list of important issues (only 5 percent)!
Poll participants from Srpska were asked to rank the performance of the Srpska government by answering 13 questions. Cooperation with the international community is the only question where more than 50 percent of participants (54 percent) approved the government's performance. The government received the lowest grades in connection with the resolution of the problems with the Banja Luka mosque Ferhadija (14 percent of favorable answers). NDI does not specify the root of dissatisfaction - the first, passive, or the second, forceful reaction of the government to the protests against the reconstruction of Ferhadija. It is interesting that as many as 33 percent of poll participants were satisfied with government's efforts to increase employment?!
The NDI analysts also demonstrated a sense for humor. They concluded their report with the commentary regarding the reactions of two nations to the accession of Bosnia-Hercegovina to the Council of Europe. "Bosniaks are, apparently, really impressed by this achievement, with 90 percent of poll participants who emphasized that that was important for Bosnia-Hercegovina, while Bosnian Serbs are less impressed, with only 58 percent of poll participants who viewed this event as important."