The European Integration and Regional Cooperation Board of the assembly in Republika Srpska - Bosnia's mainly Serbian entity - rejected two draft laws on Monday that the assembly was due to debate on Tuesday.
Trade unions and NGOs claimed the two draft laws on public gatherings and non-proft organisations aimed to further increase political control in the entity.
The draft law on public gatherings aimed to prevent assemblies near government buildings and allow police to determine where public meetings should take place. Trade unions in the entity said it violated constitutional and fundamental human rights on freedom of expression and movement, and was an attempt to stifle future public protests.
Despite public criticism, the two draft laws were up for debate in the entity parliament on Tuesday, until the Board for European Integration and Regional Cooperation rejected both draft laws on Monday.
Republika Srpska premier Zeljka Cvijanovic brushed off the setback, saying the rejection of these two drafts had nothing to do with public criticism of the laws or with the stability of the ruling coalition; they just needed better formulating.
However, the rejection of the two draft laws is widely seen as a sign of a growing weakness in the coalition, led by the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD.
After the October 2014 general elections Milorad Dodik's SNSD barely managed to establish a new government in Republika Srpska, and only did so with the aid of two MPs it lured from other parties.
This issue still remains a focus of investigation by the courts. The two MPs, from the Advance Srpska party, last week announced they were withdrawing from the ruling coalition until the issue was resolved.
One of the MPs, Adam Sukalo, who is also a member of the European Integration and Regional Cooperation Board, supported the opposition bloc in rejecting the draft laws on Monday.
Without these two MPs, the SNSD bloc's majority is reduced to only one vote in the assembly. That narrow majority may already be lost, however.
A prominent SNSD leader, the MP and former speaker of the entity assembly Igor Radojicic – has become increasingly critical of Dodik and is believed to be on his way out of the party.
Radojicic added his vote to the opposition bloc at Monday’s session of the European Integrations and Regional Cooperation Board, and so helped bring down both draft laws.
Local experts believe this could be a sign in which direction Radojicic’s voting may go in future.
Top representatives of the parties in the ruling coalition met on Monday in Banja Luka, ahead of the assembly session scheduled for Tuesday.
If Radojicic leaves the ruling coalition, the two opposing blocs in the assembly could end up without either having a clear majority.
Sources close to SNSD told Balkan Insight that Radojicic may be followed by some of his supporters from the SNSD.
This would effectively topple the government, in which case Republika Srpska President Dodik would have to try to establish a new ruling coalition under a new Prime Minister-designate.
The only other alternative is to dismiss the assembly and call early elections in the entity.
The ruling coalition in other Bosnia’s entity, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is facing similar troubles. The government there is also blocked and may collapse.
“Both entity governments seem to be racing to see which one collapses first,” a state official told Balkan Insight. “It seems to be only a matter of days.”
Political crises in Bosnia’s two entities could topple the state government, deepening the overall political crisis and even derailing the new EU initiative for the country.