Democratic Transition and Electoral Design in Plural Societies: The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 1990 Elections
Author: Damir Kapidžić
Title: Democratic Transition and Electoral Design in Plural Societies: The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 1990 Elections
Issue & pages: vol. 14, no. 3, pages 311–327
The uncertainty of democratic transition poses a threat to the survival of ethnically plural societies, culminating in the first open elections. The design of the electoral system for the founding elections is therefore of crucial importance. This paper focuses on the democratic transition of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its founding elections in 1990. A variety of electoral systems, both proportional and majoritarian, were employed during these elections. With different incentives they attempted to reconcile inclusion and group representation, while fostering interethnic politics. Utilizing newly available election data and a within-case comparison, the paper analyses incentives and outcome of different electoral systems under least-likely conditions of success. As no single electoral system was able to overcome the predominance of particularistic ethnic politics during these elections, the paper concludes that under high levels of transitional uncertainty and low levels of ethnic inter-group relations, the choice of electoral system alone is often not enough to make a decisive difference in electoral outcome.