HomeWorldBosnians go to the polls to choose between nationalists and reformists |...

Bosnians go to the polls to choose between nationalists and reformists | CNN

Bosnians will go to the polls on Sunday to elect the country’s new collective presidency and lawmakers at the national, regional and local levels, deciding between entrenched nationalist parties and economy-focused reformists.

Almost 3.4 million people can vote amid the worst political crisis in the Balkan country since the end of its war in the 1990s, caused by the separatist policies of Serbian leaders and threats of blockades by the Bosnian Croats.

Polls open at 7 am local time (12:00 am ET) and close at 7 pm (12:00 pm ET). The first official results are expected at midnight local time but political parties are expected to publish their own results around 10pm.

Bosnia is made up of two autonomous regions, the Serb-dominated Serbian Republic and the Bosniak-Croat Federation, united by a weak central government. The Federation is further divided into 10 cantons. There is also the neutral district of Brcko in the north.

The election campaign of the ruling ethnic parties was dominated by hate speech and nationalist rhetoric, focusing more on issues of protecting national interests and criticizing opponents than on real-life issues such as employment and skyrocketing inflation.

The lack of reliable polling has made it difficult to predict the outcome, but many analysts believe that the nationalist parties will remain dominant and that the biggest change may come in the Bosnian countryside, which is the largest and most diverse.

Bakir Izetbegovic, leader of the larger Bosnian (Bosnian Muslim) Democratic Action Party (SDA), who is running for a member of the Bosnian presidency, is seen in a close race with Denis Becirovic of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), whose candidacy is supported by 11 civic-oriented opposition parties.

Observers believe the Serbian and Croatian nationalist parties will remain in power, but some polls have suggested pro-Russian separatist leader Milorad Dodik, who is running for president of the Republic of Serbia, faces strong competition from opposition economist Jelena Trivic.

Croatian parties have warned that they may block the formation of a government after the vote if the moderate Zeljko Komsic wins the position of member of the Croatian presidency. They say that his victory could only be based on the votes of the Bosnian majority and that they will not consider him the legitimate Croatian representative.

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