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Review article

Explaining the Success of Nationalist Parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Asim Mujkić ; Faculty of Political Science, University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
John Hulsey ; Political Science Department of Indiana University, USA

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page 143-158

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One of the key questions of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political community,
raised afresh after every multiparty election since 1990, could be stated as follows:
“How come a majority of the electorate keeps voting for the political
parties that use a markedly nationalist rhetoric?” The experience with “national”
parties, or more accurately the ethnopolitical experience of the past
two decades, which in its most radical form has proved to be so destructive
for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political community, be it through the atrocities
and ravages of war or through more or less subtle forms of discriminatory
practice, justifies us in rephrasing the question thus: “How come a majority of
the electorate keeps choosing the worst political option?” The fact is that from
1990 to 2006, despite their open and often widely expressed contempt for the
ethnopolitical elites and, which is particularly interesting, “their own” ethnopolitical
elites at that, once in the privacy of the voting booths on election day,
the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina still diligently put a cross beside the
name of “their” national leaders. Why is this? We will be so bold as to claim
that if there is a consensus about anything at all in this country, there is a general
consensus that we all know there will be absolutely no change at all. And
yet, at the very next elections the same voters will hasten to the polling station
to give their votes to “their” people. The authors inquire into the possible
answer to this question following the model of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, or the
Dilemma of Ethnopolitical Prisoner.


nationalist parties, ethnopolitical elites, Prisoner’s Dilemma, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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