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A Mixed Blessing? Measuring the Impact of Consociationalism on Post-Conflict Elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Peter Rozic
Santa Clara University
Peter Rozic
Santa Clara University
Open Panel

Abstract

Do nationalistic and ethnic issues continue to determine post-civil war voting behavior in consociational societies? Although many voting theories claim that consociational electoral systems represent a pseudo-democratic legitimization of extreme nationalist power structures in post-conflict societies, scant statistical research tests theories of nationalist voting. This article analyzes elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement. Using new panel data from Bosnian entity and cantonal levels between 1996 and 2010, the analysis finds that Bosnian consociationalism operates as a ‘mixed blessing’ in post-conflict voting. The multivariate regression models demonstrate a cyclical but continuous voting movement toward less nationalistic-oriented political parties. Moreover, new cleavages are beginning to emerge, possibly overtaking nationalistic divisions. However, the voting body remains primarily ethnic-oriented. The analysis of data suggests not only that ethnicity has remained the main electoral predictor but also confirms the increasing presence of divisive differentiation between different ethnic groups. This country study contributes to our understanding of the challenges presented by democratizing processes in post-conflict societies.