Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Political System

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a republic and federal state with a relatively weak federal level. The political system is based on the Dayton Agreement (1995) that followed the Bosnia wars in the first half of the 1990s. The supreme political authority is the UN High Representative, who ensures that the civil content of the Dayton Agreement is complied with.

The Constitution from 1995 is included as annex 4 of the Dayton Agreement. The three ethnic groups Bosnian, Serbian and Croat are considered “constituent nations” under the Constitution. They make up 96 percent of the population

Bosnia and Herzegovina's Political System

Administrative units

Bosnia-Herzegovina is divided into two entities or states, Republika Srpska (mainly Serbian), and the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina (mainly Bosnian and Croatian). The Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina is divided into ten cantons, which in turn are divided into a number of municipalities. Republika Srpska, officially called the Bosnian Serbian Republic in Norwegian, has only municipalities. In addition, the Brčko district in the north, which is under international supremacy.

Executive power

The supreme executive power is added to a collective presidency and a parliamentary responsible government. The presidency has three members, one from each of the ethnic groups. It is elected for four years; The leadership changes and changes every eight months. The presidency appoints the government. Until 2002, the post of prime minister also rotated in the same way, but then the prime minister has been appointed for four years at a time.

Legislative power

Legislative power has been added to a national assembly consisting of two chambers: the House of Representatives (Predstavnički Dom) with 42 seats (14 Serbs and 28 Bosnjak / Croatians) and a people’s chamber (Dom Naroda) with 15 members – five from each of the ethnic groups. The House of Representatives is directly elected, while the House of Representatives is elected by the two assemblies of the Serbian Republic and the Federation. The National Assembly is elected for four years.

The federation has a two-chamber assembly with a 98-member House of Representatives, elected for direct election for four years, and a 58-seat people’s chamber. The President is elected by the Assembly for one year at a time, and the Prime Minister and the President must belong to their own people group. The federation is further divided into ten cantons. The Serbian Republic has a national assembly of 83 members, elected for four years, and (as of 2002) a general assembly of 28 members.

Ethnic composition and political parties

Ethnic affiliation is still an issue of account in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The last census (2013) was the first after the Bosnia wars of the 1990s and showed that the Bosnians had come in the majority with 50.1 percent of the population. The second largest ethnic group is the Serbs with 30.8 percent and the Croats with 15.4 percent. Other nationalities make up 2.7 percent.

The country’s complicated governance should first and foremost reflect the ethnic composition. The largest parties have an ethnic profile, but there are also parties with an over-ethnic profile, but it is primarily in the Bosnian population that these have support.

Important parties are SDA, SDP, SNSD, SDS, DPD, HDZ BiH, SBB, DF, Demokratska Fronta and HDZ 1990. Since the dissolution of Yugoslavia, important politicians have been Alija Izetbegović and his son Bakir, Milorad Dodik and Zlatko Lagumdžija.


The supreme courts are the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Court consists of nine members; four Bosnjak / Croatian members, two Serbs and three foreigners appointed by the European Court of Human Rights. The Supreme Court has 37 judges, of which 14 are foreign. A separate war crimes tribunal was established in 2005.

The two parts of the country also have their own judicial system with the Supreme Court and lower courts.