Bosnia's SDP in Turmoil After Election Failure

Balkan Insight
Fecha de publicación: 
17 Oct 2014

Damir Hadzic and Nermin Niksic, two key figures in Bosnia's Social Democratic Party, SDP, have resigned decision-making posts in the party after its debacle in last Sunday's elections.

At a crisis press conference on October 16, the SDP said an extraordinary party congress would soon choose a new leadership.

Zlatko Lagumdzija, the veteran party leader, confirmed that he would not be running for the post again.

In a seech full of nautical references, he said the SDP was sailing “in a rough sea" but, with its existing crew on board, they would "bring the SDP into a peaceful harbour” following the recent election “shipwreck”.

Niksic, general secretary of the SDP, and Prime Minister of Bosnia's Federation entity, said he was resigning from decision-making positions in the party because of the election results.

“I think I am co-responsible for the catastrophic result of the SDP,” he said. “All of us in the SDP must lay out our bills for what happened in the elections. A congress of the SDP needs to find a new leadership.”

Hadzic - currently vice-president of the SDP and Bosnia's Communication Minister - said his resignation was “a moral obligation”. Returning to his leader's maritime theme, he added: “Someone needs to bring this ship to a harbour”.

Other members of the leadership of the party are expected to resign shortly. The date of the congress will reportedly be set next week.

At the 2010 general elections, the Social Democratic Party won more than 265.000 votes for the state parliament and a similar number for the Federation entity parliament. It was thus the clear winner among the Bosniak population.

Having been in opposition for years, criticizing the parties that had ruled for so long, SDP then represented the idea of change from the old ethnic-based parties.

Expectations of the SDP soon vanished after the 2010 elections, however. It failed to form a government for 16 months. When it did finally form a coalition of six parties, it did not take long for the coalition to fall apart.

The party expelled the largest Bosniak party, the Party of Democratic Action, SDA, from the government and brought in a new partner, the Alliance for a Better Future, SBB. It also hatched political deals with the largest Serbian party, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, before later forcing out the SBB.

Zeljko Komsic, the SDP's most popular senior member, who twice won a seat on Bosnia's state Presidency, quit the party in frustration.

At the general elections last Sunday, the SDP won only around 80,000 votes for the state parliament and ended up as the fifth-largest party in the Federation.

Many voters clearly deserted to Komsic's party, the Democratic Front, DF, which was only formed in 2013 but won around 130,000 votes.

Lagumdzija has led the SDP since 1997. Many senior figure left the party saying it was impossibly to work with him, including its first president, the late Nijaz Durakovic, Miro Lazovic, Ivo Komsic, Emir Suljagic and - lately - Komsic.