BiH Citizens’ Assembly’s Recommendations for Constitutional and Electoral Reform

The first-ever BiH-wide Citizens’ Assembly, a deliberative body of 57 citizens who are representative of the country’s demographic groups, concluded yesterday and made its recommendations for elimination of discrimination in BiH’s political and electoral system.

Over two weekends of intensive discussion in February, held in two different cities in BiH (Sarajevo and Teslic), randomly selected members of the public had the opportunity to learn about these issues, discuss with others who have different views, and work to find common ground. The discussion was inclusive and coordinated by independent facilitators and experts in the field of human rights, election legislation, and constitutional law. A number of stakeholders, including representatives of BiH political parties, were invited to present different perspectives so citizens would understand the issues before making recommendations.

Following all this input, the members had in-depth discussions on issues of the concept of constituent peoples, ethnicity, and how these relate to the functioning of institutions. The citizens have reached recommendations on the following topics: the BiH Presidency, the House of Peoples, and combatting corruption and fraud in the election process.

The independent facilitators, who have experience with such Citizens’ Assemblies all over Europe, were deeply impressed by the Assembly members. According to the expert facilitator, Christiane Amici-Raboud, “participants embodied the spirit of the Citizens’ Assembly – openness, fairness, equality of voice, efficiency, respect and collegiality. Their level of engagement and commitment and their proactive and constructive approach was simply outstanding, once again showing what can be achieved by giving people who are not involved in politics the time and space to consider important issues.”

The Citizens’ Assembly in BiH agreed unanimously or by large majority on 17 recommendations. These will be publicly presented to BiH political institutions and the general public. The process was launched and supported throughout by the European Union, with the support of the United States Embassy, and the OSCE Mission to BiH. I am honored and glad to have been able to co-design and shapre this process​

Illiberal Politics in Southeast Europe. How Ruling Elites Undermine Democracy is published by Routledge

A difficult and challenging year and a half later, my co-edited special issue Illiberal Politics in Southeast Europe is published as a book by Routledge. Authoritarian leaders are strong as ever in many countries around the world. Adopting a procedural approach, the book introduces a theoretical framework of illiberal politics and the tools (mis)used to remain in power that are similar or the same in many countries worldwide. The individual chapters highlight instances illiberal politics (or authoritarian innovations) through seven Southeast European cases, showing how ruling elites undermine democracy in the region.

You can still read the original articles in the Journal of Southeast European and Black Sea Studies (without exorbitant pricing; the editors and authors don’t get a share of book sales). If you REALLY need the book, look up the discount code on the flyer.

Horizon 2020 project CONNEKT starting at UNSA

Posted on 27 November 2019 by Damir Kapidzic

Contexts of Extremism in MENA and Balkan Societies (CONNEKT) is a Horizon 2020 research and innovative action project starting in 2020 (call H2020-SC6-GOVERNANCE-2019 – Governance for the Future).

I am very glad to lead this project in front of the University of Sarajevo together with a team of talented and young researchers.

The 42 month long project involves 13 partners from the EU, MENA and the Balkans (Instituto Europeo del Mediterraneo-lead, American University in Cairo, Generations for Peace-Jordan, Jasmine Foundation for Research and Communication-Tunis, University Moulay Ismail, University of Sarajevo, Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development, Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Forumi Rinor Islam-N.Macedonia, Center for the Study of Democracy-Bulgaria, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, University of Graz, and Universitat Rovira i Virgili. Research is planned in 8 target countries (Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Bulgaria).

The aim is to establish a multi-dimensional map of drivers of violent extremism among youth and to identify the interplay between them. The multi-disciplinary research and the multi-stakeholder approach allows the enrichment of empirical and academic research in order to draw a comprehensive picture of the drivers of violent extremism among youth in target countries.

Together with my team and the project partners I am looking forward to an exciting few years of research.

Press release from the University of Sarajevo.

#IPSA19BIH conference held at the University of Sarajevo

Posted on 17 June 2019 by Damir Kapidzic

From June 12 to June 15 the conference “Diversity and Democratic Governance: Legacies of the Past, Present Challenges, and Future Directions?” was held at the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Sarajevo.

The conference is organized by the International Political Science Association (IPSA) – RC14 Politics and Ethnicity, jointly with RC13 Democratization in Comparative Perspective, RC28 Comparative Federalism and Multilevel Governance, RC44 Security, Conflict and Democratization, RC50 Politics of Language.

Kanchan Changra of New York University was the keynote speaker and held an engaging presentation on “The New Ethnic Nationalisms: Democracy, Identity and Governance in the Twenty-first Century”. She discussed the problem of majority ethnic nationalisms and the threat they pose for democracy today.

In over 40 panels, four book panel events, and two public roundtables, almost 200 scholars discussed issues ranging from ethnic politics to democratic governance, minority inclusion, and politics of memory. A PDF copy of the Conference Program is available here.

According to many participants the event was a huge success and one of the best (in not the best) RC14 events ever. A great thanks goes out to my co-members on the organizing and program committee: Timofey Agarin (Queen’s University Belfast) and Allison McCulloch (Brandon University). It was really great working together with you! 

Impressions and pictures from the conference were tweeted in real time and are accessible here:

Discussing Democratic Political Culture in Southeast Europe

Posted on 10 May 2019 by Damir Kapidzic

Glad to have my contribution published as part of the new Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung publication series where my coauthors and I argue the influence of political culture in the Western Balkans to help explain failure in achieving goals of liberal democracy and offer recommendations for future.

In my text I focus on how to discuss political culture with university students and to overcome common misconceptions on what political culture means.

You can find the publication linked here.

Youth Studies Southeast Europe

Posted on 10 April 2019 by Damir Kapidzic

This has been a long time coming. I am glad to have been part of this cross-country, regional initiative to map attitudes and experiences of young people in the European semi-periphery. Especially the section on political attitudes is worth a read.

The research was headed by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. It included over 10.000 respondents aged between 14 and 29 in ten countries. These are: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegowina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.

All reports are available online under:

Also, a recent article published in the German daily Zeit deals with the main findings of the studies (in German):

Interest groups in BiH

Posted on 20 February 2019 by Damir Kapidzic

My article “A mirror of the ethnic divide: Interest group pillarization and elite dominance in Bosnia and Herzegovina” has been published in the Journal of Public Affairs in early view. The print verions will come out in a few months (as v19.n2). It is part of a special issue on public affairs and interest groups in the contemporary Balkans, put together by Danica Fink-Hafner and Clive S. Thomas.

Here is the abstract:

To date, there is no comprehensive treatment of interests and interest groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). This article seeks to fill that gap. It does so by explaining that interest groups reflect the country’s complex political system with multiple levels of power sharing along societal cleavages. Political parties are the major power centers, and the link between ethnicity and party allegiance is most significant in defining the role of interest groups. The result is a pillarized (separate, intragroup) and bifurcated group system with 3 separate interest group subsystems with little interchange between them. This fragmentation has been challenged by international institutional organizations promoting multiethnic interests. Nevertheless, with the persistence of many informal interests, the group system is stymied in moving toward an integrated system, a development that is key to strengthening BiH’s consociational democracy.

Download the article here.

For a free online version click here.


Posted on 2 January 2019 by Damir Kapidzic

CFP Diversity and Democratic Governance: Legacies of the Past, Present Challenges, and Future Directions? – deadline extended to 15 January 2019

Conference organised by the RC14 Politics and Ethnicity,

Jointly with RC13 Democratization in Comparative Perspective, RC28 Comparative Federalism and Multilevel Governance, RC44 Security, Conflict and Democratization, RC50 Politics of Language.

University of Sarajevo, 12–15 June 2019

This conference will bring together a number of IPSA research committees to examine the challenges building democratic state institutions, how legacies of the past inform the present and what impact this has for the future of democratic governance in ethnically diverse societies.

The conference will provide an opportunity to examine the role of local, national, regional, and international actors in the development of democracy, the accommodation of ethnic diversity, and the design of political institutions. We welcome contributions that focus on democratization and institutional design as open-ended processes driven by internal and/or external factors, including ethnicity, gender, class, religion, neoliberal economic development, and geopolitics. Papers that focus on the social, economic and legal legacies of the past and how they affect the future direction of politics in diverse settings are particularly welcome.

Given that the conference will be convened in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, two decades after the violent civil war that followed the break-up of Federal Yugoslavia, we particularly welcome proposals that reflect upon the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Yugoslav legacies of the past, the international peace-building efforts of the present, and the democratic reforms for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We also welcome proposals that develop case studies or compare issues of peace-building, institutional design, and/or ethnic accommodation evident in other parts of the world.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

· What role do structures of government, particular federal, power-sharing, power-dividing, and other forms of integration and accommodation, play today in confronting the diverse set of legacies of the past in individual countries, regions and/or globally? 

· How do the changing cleavages of ethnic and cultural identities challenge perceptions of linear history and practices of governance in contemporary states?

· What are the benchmarks for democratic governance in diverse societies and how can such societies avoid processes of democratic retrenchment, particularly post-conflict?

· What impact does the global rise of populism have on political relations in ethnically diverse and democratizing states? What are the long-term effects of international intervention for liberal peacebuilding after violent conflicts, ethnic or otherwise? 

· What is the impact of the legacies of inter-communal conflict on the prospects of political stability in postconflict democratizing states?

We invite proposals for individual paper contributions and/or panels that engage empirically, conceptually and normatively with these issues. We aim to feature the best of contemporary research on democratic transitions and institutional design, including new research by established academics as well as by early career scholars.

The confirmed keynote speaker is Professor Kanchan Chandra, New York University.

Proposals for papers should include contact details of the author(s), title and an abstract of no more than 200 words.

Panel proposals must include:

· A minimum of three papers and a maximum of four

· Contact details for all paper-givers, the discussant and chair

· Panel title and short description of panel (no more than 200 words)

· Individual paper titles and short abstract (no more than 100 words)

The final deadline for the electronic submission of paper and panel proposals is 15 January 2019. Notices of acceptance will be sent out the week of 10 February 2019. Proposals should be submitted online at:

All participants will be required to register for the conference. IPSA has implemented a new category of membership for citizens from low and lower-middle income countries; the list of eligible countries can be found here: Please self-identify at the time of registration.

Early Bird Registration Fees (before 1 May 2019):

Faculty Rate: Non-member 100 €; Member 80 €; Member from Global South 60 €

Student Rate: Non-member 60 €; Member 50 €; Member from Global South 40€ 

Participants from Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as participants without presentation: 50€

After 1 May 2019, the student rate will be raised by 20 € and by 40 € for the remaining categories. The cost of the conference dinner is 35 € and should be paid at the time of registration.

The organizers will endeavor to provide a select pool of graduate students/early career academics with a bursary to partially cover travel expenses to Sarajevo. Please identify your eligibility and if you wish to be considered for the bursary at the time of your submission. The decision on the pool of recipients will be made in May 2019.

Organizing committee: Timofey Agarin, Queen’s University Belfast, UK; Allison McCulloch, Brandon University, Canada; Damir Kapidzic, University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Inquiries can be directed to the organizers at:

Segmentirani stranački sustav Bosne i Hercegovine

Posted on 17 December 2018 by Damir Kapidzic

Stranački sustav Bosne i Hercegovine je kompleksan i sastoji se od više razina interakcije i međustranačkog natjecanja. Uzimajući u obzir politički relevantne društvene rascjepe često se govori da se svo međustranačko natjecanje odvija unutar etnički definiranih segmenata hrvatskih, srpskih, bošnjačkih (i multietničkih) stranaka, ali empirijski dokazi nedostaju. Analizom izbornih rezultata za Parlament Bosne i Hercegovine od 1996. do 2014. godine, te koristeći mjeru volatilnosti između stranačkih segmenata, dokazujem postojanje četiri (ili tri i pol) etnički definirana stranačka podsustava s gotovo nepostojećom prohodnosti glasača. Istovremeno postoji znatna volatilnost unutar ovih segmenata, što potvrđuje da se političko natjecanje u Bosni i Hercegovini odvija isključivo unutar četiri segmenta stranačkog sustava među strankama istog etničkog predznaka.

Kapidžić, D. (2017). Segmentirani stranački sustav Bosne i Hercegovine (The Segmented Party System of Bosnia and Herzegovina). Političke perspective, 7(1-2), 7–23. DOI:10.20901/pp.7.1-2.01

English title and abstract:

The Segmented Party System of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The party system of Bosnia and Herzegovina is complex and consists of several levels of interaction and party competition. Because of the politically relevant cleavages, researchers have claimed that party competition is centered withing the ethnically defined segments of Croat, Serb, Bosniak (and multiethnic) parties, but there has been no empirical evidence to back that claim. By analyzing election results for the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina 1996–2014, and by measuring the volatility among party segments, the author identifies four (or three and a half) ethnically defined party subsystems with almost non-existent voter fluctuation among them. At the same time, there is a significant volatility within these segments. The empirical analysis confirms the claim that the political party competition in Bosnia and Herzegovina exists solely inside the four segments of the party system among parties with the same ethnic label.

Crisis Response in SEE

Posted on 28 April 2018 by Damir Kapidzic

A comparative study of crisis response, institutional coordination and black swans that I co-wrote with Dušan Pavlović and Gordan Bosanac has been published in the book Crisis Governance in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. The Study of Floods in 2014 by Peter Lang. The entire study consists of a chapter and two appendices that complement each other, in addition to a policy brief available in english and in B/H/S.

Kapidžić, D., Pavlović D. & Bosanac, G. (2018). Crisis Response in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia. In: Džihić, V. & Solska, M. (Eds.), Crisis Governance in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. The Study of Floods in 2014 (pp.27–57). Oxford: Peter Lang.

Public authority beyond hybrid governance

Posted on 6 April 2018 by Damir Kapidzic

My article on how public authority in Uganda is published in Peacebuilding. In it I argue that in hybrid governance contexts public authority relies on procedural forms of legitimisation that can best be conceptualised as ‘throughput legitimacy’ and results from repeatedly making decisions in inclusive and communally agreeable ways.

Access it here (there are still a few free copies), or contact me:

Damir Kapidžić (2018) Public authority beyond hybrid governance: creating throughput legitimacy in Northern Uganda, Peacebuilding,

DOI: 10.1080/21647259.2018.1449187

Abstract: Governance must be based on public authority that is considered legitimate within a society. This paper attempts to examine the process of how public authority is legitimised on the local level by looking at decision-making on the resolution of land conflict in the hybrid governance setting of Northern Uganda. It argues that public authority relies on procedural forms of legitimisation that can best be conceptualised as ‘throughput legitimacy’ and results from repeatedly making decisions in inclusive and communally agreeable ways. Public authority is identified as simultaneously shared and contested between (and among) formal and traditional authority, continuously re-created through daily local-level interactions. The process of mediation is especially found to have a positive impact on throughput legitimacy. Going beyond the focus on local vs. international and formal vs. traditional actors in hybrid governance, this research suggests that a stronger focus on legitimising processes can lead to a better understanding of public authority.

Keywords: Public authority, hybrid governance, throughput legitimacy, Northern Uganda

Universities and Conflict (by Routledge)

Posted on 19 December 2017 by Damir Kapidzic

It’s book season! The chapter I wrote together with Nemanja Džuverović for the book Universities and Conflict finally made its way to my desk. Thanks to Juliet Millican for bringing this together.

If you want to read more on “Bridging the ‘International-Local Gap’ in Peacebuiling Through Academic Cooperation: The Balkan Master’s Program in Peace Studies” buy the book (link below), or contact me for a pre-print version.

This is one of the first books on the role of universities in conflict and peacebuilding. Check it out:…/…/9781138092136

Enter promotional code FLR40 for a 20% discount (I don’t know until when it is valid).