SFOR
Transcript
25 September 1998

Transcript: OSCE Press Conference

25 September 1998, 1130 Hours
OSCE/EU General Elections Media Center
Skenderija, Sarajevo


Nicole Szulc, OSCE: Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the announcements of the 1998 General Elections for Bosnia-Herzegovina. I'd like to tell you a little something about what you are about to see here tonight on these screens. We have prepared a presentation with aggregate vote totals in each electoral contest. After we get through the races, we will give you additional information on voter response. You will be given hand-outs in just a few minutes with which you can follow along the information that we are going to give you. Each slide will have a page number in the lower right hand corner and there will be a page number on your sheets that will correspond to that.

We have with us tonight, here, our Head of Mission, Ambassador Robert Barry, and our Deputy Head of Mission for Elections, Linda Edgeworth. They will be prepared to analyze what you are seeing as we go along and, if anyone is still standing when this is over, Ambassador Barry and Mrs. Edgeworth will be happy to take your questions and we are delighted that Ambassador Westendorp will also join us at that time. So, to begin with, Ambassador Barry would like to give you a brief overview of this year's elections. Ambassador Barry.

Amb. Robert Barry, OSCE Head of Mission: Thank you and thanks also to the High Representative, Ambassador Westendorp, for being with us here tonight. A word first about the timing of the announcement of these results; we thought it would be better to announce the results after we finished the ballots - and that really only happened late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning at about 2 o'clock in the morning. Up until that time, we were still counting the tendered ballots and when we finished that process, we had to move into the process of auditing the results. Auditing the results means going over them carefully to make sure that they all match up with each other and that the addition comes out right. So, that process took all day Wednesday and most of the day today. So, we are ready with the results; we have them - basically, as soon as they were finally compiled and ready - and we think this compares favorably with the amount of time it has taken in the past to certify the results of these rather complicated elections.

The process of counting these votes was very transparent; that is, there were observers from political parties, observers from the monitoring organizations, who were present at the counting centers, watching - as all of the ballots were counted, as the tendered ballots were verified - and this made the political parties quite aware of how the trends were developing as the count went on. By deciding not to release partial results, but letting the parties observe how the count was going, I think we managed to take some of the atmosphere of charges and counter-charges out of the process, as the parties were able to see, themselves, how trends were developing in the counting centers.

To comment on the figures, which you are going to see shortly, I would just say a few things; first, I think it shows that the voters were really very committed to this process. Before the elections, many people said that there is voter fatigue here - people are really not so interested in coming out and voting. In fact, I think this was more politician fatigue than it was voter fatigue because the politicians felt that it was an imposition on them - some of them - to have to run so often in order to keep their office. The voters really turned out in very large numbers and they seemed to be thinking independently, for themselves, more than ever in this election. That is, I think they were motivated by far more than national slogans or ethnic identity.

For example, it is clear that whatever, say, leaders of political parties advised, the voters did not necessarily follow these instructions, in terms of voting; they really thought for themselves and you can see, as these results come out, where it is that the voters really struck out for themselves. I would say, also, that there was a tendency, more than ever, to hold elected officials accountable; that is, to try to measure whether they had done what they were elected to do in the past two years or to decide whether their party programs were, in fact, programs that the voters endorsed. I think it is clear, as you see these results, that there has been a continuation of the process of erosion of support of the nationalist parties. This takes place, I think, across the board and you will see that the parties that were elected in 1996 - the Coalition, or the SDA, the HDZ, the SDS, the SRS - they all lost percentage of voters in the Parliamentary elections and, for the most part, when it comes to individual candidates. The exception was President Izetbegovic, himself, whose percentage of the vote went up from about 80 percent, in 1996, to about 87 percent this year.

The competition between political parties seemed much stronger this year. The numbers of parties shrunk. For example, in 1997, there were 49 political parties running for the Republika Srpska National Assembly while this year, the number was down to 36. The parties also demonstrated a correlation between their ability to go out and use Western techniques of campaigning - participating in debates, reaching out personally to the voters and taking advantage of the kinds of training offered by Western political parties - the success of those parties correlates closely with the votes that you will see that people got. When you come along to the Republika Srpska National Assembly elections, you will see there quite an even distribution of power across the spectrum; that is, that the individual political parties, or the coalitions, are quite evenly balanced. And what you see in the spectrum of parties in that assembly is something that is much more like a traditional Western European parliamentary system, where the parties are grouped from Left to Right across the spectrum based upon ideology and economic programs and things like that. The same is true, I think, of the other parliamentary bodies - the BiH Parliamentary Assembly, the Federation Parliamentary Assembly - where, again, the nationalist parties lost some of their attraction to the voters and other parties - opposition parties - grew in strength. I think this is all attributable to a number of improvements in the political culture here. In the first place, the media, I think, behaved much more responsibly and in a more balanced fashion this year, than before, and this provided a more even playing field. The presence of well-trained domestic monitors - that is, people from non-governmental organizations or political parties - present in the polling places - were quite effective, also, in minimizing the amount of irregularities that took place in polling places and this creates, I think, a good cadre for the future as we turn these elections over to the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina. We think also that the behavior of the national police was exemplary, in terms of providing security for the elections, themselves, and in terms of providing security for transport of sensitive items, like ballots, etc.

The financial disclosure provision this year, I think, provided an additional element of transparency about the candidates. The ban on paid political advertising, I think, also helped to level the playing field. Some of the innovations, like political party service centers, helped to strengthen the development of political parties. And, in general, the freedom of movement that was established this year, with the introduction of the new license plates, provided greater freedom for people to go and cast their votes across the Inter-Entity Boundary Lines without having to have specially secured routes to do this. I would say also that the Voters Register, this year, did show an improvement in that it provided geographic indexing of where the voters lived and that this, indeed, was another advantage that we will build on, in terms of preparation for the next election.

So, I would say that we have focused too much attention on one race, that is, the Republika Srpska Presidency, and not enough on some of the other races, because those other races show that the overall trends that we have been working for are taking place; it is a continuous process, it is a process that operates slowly - and more slowly than we would like - but is very definitely in process and what it indicates to us is that we must continue along the same path and continue to work for these improvements in the political system. So, with those introductory words, let me turn this back to Nicole, who will begin with the actual results.

Nicole Szulc, OSCE: Actually, just before beginning with the actual results, I'd like to explain to you a couple of points that are important for you to understand - the first one being, the certification of the election results. The results that we are announcing today - tonight - are final, unofficial and uncertified results. They must be approved, or certified, by the Provisional Election Commission before becoming official. These final, official and uncertified results are subject to a last round of audits before going to the PEC. Auditing adjustments, if any, will be negligible - no greater than plus or minus one quarter of a percent.

PEC approval, known as technical certification, is the certification of the accuracy of the election results. The additional step of final certification, or certification of implementation of results, will apply only to the 1998 municipal elections. In other words, not to any of the other races that were held this year. The PEC could not certify the results until the Election Appeal Sub-Commission has adjudicated all outstanding and/or pending complaints. Complaints can be lodged with the EASC no later than 72 hours after the actual occurrence of the alleged violation and the EASC must adjudicate the claim within seven days. The EASC has scheduled its final Judges' meeting for the 30th of September. The PEC will then meet as soon thereafter as is possible. Presuming the PEC decides that recounts or re-polling are not necessary, it will certify the results, which will be published in the official gazette, or Sluzbena Lista of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In accordance with past practice, seat allocations will be announced only following the certification of results by the PEC.

Also, a word on the formula for seat allocation for this year's elections. This year, the seat allocation formula has been changed to the Sandt-Laag (sic) formula, as described in the Provisional Election Commission's Rules and Regulations. The Sandt-Laag method is a straight allocation of seats based on a series of devisors. The numbers in the series of devisors are odd numbers, starting from the number "one." The total number of votes - for each political party, coalition, voting alliance and independent candidate - are divided by the series of devisors until the number of divisions is equal to the number of seats being contested. The highest quotient which results from each round of divisions shall be awarded a mandate. For each candidate list, the total number of distributed mandates can be less or equal to the number of candidates. If a tie occurs, because the resulting numbers are identical, the mandate shall be allocated on the basis of the drawing of a lot. This method is fairer that a threshold system, in which a party can miss a threshold by only one point and then not be able to compete for a mandate in a later round for allocation of mandates. The advantage to the Sandt-Laag system of devisors is that all political parties, coalitions, voting alliances and independent candidates are treated on an equal basis, mathematically. This formula guarantees that the votes of a smaller party will be counted in the allocation of remainder seats, even where a party did not have enough votes to win a seat under the formula that we used last year. The Sandt-Laag seat allocation formula is currently being used in Norway, Sweden, Latvia and New Zealand. And, with that, I think we are ready to start. Good things take time. Okay.

Starting with the race for the Bosniak Member of the Joint Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Alija Izetbegovic leads with 511,309 votes. Following Mr. Izetbegovic is Fikret Abdic-Babo with 36, 436 votes. Following Mr. Abdic is Sefer Halilovic with 33,680 votes. And lastly, Hajrija Rahmonovic with 7,694 votes.

In the race for the Croat Member of the Joint Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the winner is Ante Jelavic with 189,408 votes. Mr Jelavic is followed by Gradimir Gojer with 113,947 votes. Mr. Gojer is followed by Kresimir Zubak with 40,811 votes. Following Mr. Zubak is Senka Nozica with 11,088 votes. And, Ms. Nozica is followed by Sasa Nisandzic with 2,636 votes.

For the Serb member of the Presidency, the winner is Momcilo Krajisnik



Amb. Robert Barry, OSCE Head of Mission: Zivko Radisic.

Nicole Szulc, OSCE: I am sorry, he's right. That's why I bring him up here. See, I don't read Cyrillic. I have a cheat sheet here - and Mr. Poplasen - I mean Mr.

Amb. Robert Barry, OSCE Head of Mission: Mr. Radisic had 360,286, followed by Momcilo Krajisnik, who has 315, 480 votes, followed by Zoran Tadic with 27, 427. That is, to repeat, Zivko Radisic is the winner with 360, 286, followed by Momcilo Krajisnik with 315,480, followed by Zoran Tadic with 27,427.

Nicole Szulc, OSCE: This would be the point where we explain that that means that the chairman of the Joint Presidency, the first Chairman of the Joint Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina will be the Serb member. This is because, as I am sure all of you remember, the Provisional Election Commission passed a rule this year saying that the Chairman of the Joint Presidency could not succeed himself, in this case. So, President Izetbegovic goes to the back of the line. The first chairman will then be the Serb member, the second chairman will be the Croat member, and the third chairman will be the Bosniak member. These, as you know, are rotations of eight months over the four-year period. So, that is the Joint Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Next, we go to the President and Vice President of the Republika Srpska, and I think I'll let my boss read those. Amb. Robert Barry, OSCE Head of Mission: The winner of this race is Nikola Poplasen of the SRS and SDS coalition with 324,033 votes, followed by Biljana Plavsic, who is the representative of the Sloga Coalition, with 286, 914 votes. Of course, on those same tickets, there are Vice Presidents - Mirko Sarovic for the SDS/SRS Coalition and Svatozar Mihajlovic for the Sloga Coalition. The next largest number of votes was gained by the BOSS Party, the Bosanska Stranka candidate being Zulfo Nisic, the Vice President being Fatima Ragibovic, and the total vote count there for the BOSS Party was 107,037 votes. That was a notable vote for the Bosanska Stranka and, I think, helps to explain the outcome of that particular race. The other parties - Mihajlo Crnadak got 16,095 votes. And Predrag Sekulovic and Nenad Ljepojevic - that ticket got 3,296 votes.

Nicole Szulc, OSCE: Next we go to the Bosnia-Herzegovina House of Representatives, where the Coalition for a Whole and Democratic Bosnia-Herzegovina, party number 17, has 455,403. The HDZ BiH - 187,152 votes. The SDP - 137,990 votes. The Social Democrats of BiH - 28,740. The New Croat Initiative - 28,572. The DNZ - 21, 449. The BOSS Party, the Bosanska Stranka - 13,594 votes. The Pensioners Party - 12,988 votes. And, the Patriotic Party for Bosnia-Herzegovina - 11, 723 votes. This slide continues with other party polls.

Amb. Robert Barry, OSCE Head of Mission: It should be noted that these are votes for the House of Representatives from the Federation. There will be another set of votes from Republika Srpska for the same body.

Nicole Szulc, OSCE: Those will be read by our Cyrillic expert.

Amb. Robert Barry, OSCE Head of Mission: These are the votes from Republika Srpska for the BiH House of Representatives. Here you see that the Sloga Coalition comes in first with 214,948 votes. Followed by the SDS/SRS Coalition, called SDS List, with 163,436 votes. Third comes the Coalition for a Whole and Democratic Bosnia-Herzegovina with 128,277 votes. Next in line, the Serbian Radical Party of Republika Srpska with 119,026 votes. Followed by the Radical Party of Republika Srpska with 27,753 votes. I would note here that although the Radical Party and the Serbian Radical . Uh ran together as a coalition on some levels, they ran separately on that level. These are more votes in that same race, as we have moved along.

Nicole Szulc, OSCE: Now we move on to the BiH Federation House of Representatives, where the Coalition for a Whole and Democratic Bosnia-Herzegovina garnered 456,387 votes. The HDZ BiH - 184,569 votes. The SDP - 126,630 votes. The Social Democrats of BiH - 29,427 votes. The New Croat Initiative - 27,357 votes. The DNZ - 19,491 votes. The Patriotic Party for Bosnia-Herzegovina - 12,581 votes. Amb. Robert Barry, OSCE Head of Mission: The Socialist Party of Republika Srpska, the SPIS, 10,742 votes. Followed by the Pensioners Party with 10,125 votes. These are the other smaller parties, as their results - for the Federation House of Representatives - came in.

Nicole Szulc, OSCE: For those of you who are taking notes furiously, you will have full copies of these slides to take home with you at the end of this press conference. So Next, is the Republika Srpska National Assembly. Everybody relax.

Amb. Robert Barry, OSCE Head of Mission: These are the results for the RS National Assembly and here you see that the top vote getter is the Srpska Demokratka Stranka, the Serbian Democratic Party, with 161,299 votes. Second largest party is the Coalition for a Whole and Democratic Bosnia-Herzegovina with 125,546 votes. Next is the Serbian Radical Party of Republika Srpska with 97,664 votes, followed by the Serbian National Union of Republika Srpska, SNS, Biljana Plavsic, with 95,840. The Socialist Party of Republika Srpska with 79,252 votes. The SNSD, Milorad Dodik's party, came in with 54,072 votes, followed by the Radical Party of Republika Srpska - 27,206. Social Democrats got 19,894. And, the Serbian Coalition for Republika Srpska - 19,208. Here again, the parties that ran in coalitions elsewhere, ran separately in these races. That is, both the Sloga Coalition and the SDS/SRS. In this case, instead of staying in the coalition, they were running against each other in the same race. And these are more of the minority parties that came in - in that race.

Nicole Szulc, OSCE: Now, we begin with the Cantonal Assembly races. Starting with Canton 1 - the Coalition for a Whole and Democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina received 74,145 votes. The DNZ party - 18,548 votes. The SDP - 6,391. And so on.

Canton 2 - HDZ BiH won 9.369 votes. The New Croat Initiative - 3,626 votes. The Coalition for a Whole and Democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina - 2,669 votes. The SDP - 685 votes. And so on.

Canton 3 - The Coalition for a Whole and Democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina - 85,572 votes. The SDP - 33,613 votes. The Social Democrats of BiH - 26,691 votes. The HDZ BiH - 5,943 votes. And so on.

I believe you are getting your hand-outs now. So that should make following along a little bit easier.

Canton 4 - The Coalition for a Whole and Democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina - 87,525 votes. The SDP - 34,008 votes. The HDZ - 13,289 votes. The New Croat Initiative - 6,176 votes. And so on.

Canton 5 - The Coalition for a Whole and Democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina - 7,412 votes. SDP - 1,675 votes. Party 39 with 655 votes. Party 49, the Social Democrats of BiH - 471 votes. And so on.

Canton 6 - The Coalition for a Whole and Democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina - 58,332 votes. The HDZ - 47,246 votes. The SDP - 11,637 votes. The New Croat Initiative - 8,208 votes. And so on.

The Cantonal Assembly for Canton 7 - The HDZ won 53,393 votes. Coalition for a Whole and Democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina - 37,172 votes. The SDP - 7,302 votes. The New Croat Initiative - 2,199 votes. And so on.

The race for the Cantonal Assembly in Canton 8 - The HDZ won 27,202 votes. The True Croat Party - 3,595 votes. Number 14 - 788 votes. And so on.

The race for Canton 9, Sarajevo - The Coalition for a Whole and Democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina - 82,755 votes. The SDP - 34,985 votes. The Patriotic Party of Bosnia-Herzegovina - 5,065. The HDZ BiH - 4,783 votes. And so on.

Canton 10 - HDZ - 21,281 votes. - The Coalition for a Whole and Democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina - 4,578 votes. The Social Democrats of Republika Srpska and BiH - 2,585 votes. And so on.

Now, before we move into the municipal assemblies that were up this year, Linda Edgeworth would like to say a few words to explain why we had these municipal elections and how they were carried out. Linda

Linda Edgeworth, OSCE Deputy Head of Mission for Elections: Actually 12 municipal elections were scheduled to be held as the General Elections this year. Actually, 11 actually had polling on polling days. The 12th municipality, Dobrotici, only had one party contest the election and had enough candidates to have a full slate of winners. So, the Provisional Election Commission determined that it was not necessary to hold polling in that community. I think it is important to recognize that when it comes to municipal elections, there is a two-phase process for certification of results. The first relates to the technical certification for the accuracy of the election result that is reported and the allocation of seats. The second phase has to do with the final certification. Just as the municipal elections in 1997 fell under the final certification provisions of the Provisional Election Commission, so will these municipal elections. This has to do with implementation of results. The final certification has several criteria for the determination that the final certification is to be awarded to the municipality. First of all, the convening of its first session, the assurance that minority parties and coalitions and candidates are appropriately represented in executive offices and that councilors and assemblymen are not in any way impeded in full participation and access to the municipalities, to the municipal offices and to the posts in which they are to take office. The implementation phase is also monitored by the Election Results Implementation Committee, which is made up of a number of international organizations - certainly, U.N. Civil Affairs, SFOR, IPTF, OHR, and certainly the OSCE - and national members. So, this phase of the process guarantees that the results of the election are fully implemented at the municipal levels.

Nicole Szulc, OSCE: Now that you have your hand-out, I will just read the name of the municipal assembly and let you follow along. The first one is the Municipal Assembly from Kostajnica. The Municipal Assembly from Bosanski Novi-Novi Grad. The Municipal Council from Domaljevac-Samac. The municipal from Doboj Istok. The Municipal Council from Doboj Yug, Doboj South. The Municipal Council from Pale in the Federation. Municipal Council from Ravno. The Municipal Council in Usora. The Municipal Council, Foca. Municipal Council Teocak, and Municipal Council Sapna.

Well, that completes all the races that voters were allowed to - that parties were allowed to contest this year. Now, to give an explanation of some of the other features of this election, I turn the mike over again to Linda Edgeworth.

Linda Edgeworth, OSCE Deputy Head of Mission for Elections: As you all know, the elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina are comprised of multi-layers of voters and their various eligibilities to participate in this process. They include voters who are registered to vote within their current municipality of residence, voters who opt to vote in their pre-war municipality, as well as voters who don't live in Bosnia-Herzegovina at the present time. Primarily, we have in-person voting in the former - the Federal - Republic of Yugoslavia and Croatia. But, we also serve voters living around the world who have yet to return to Bosnia. We also have absentee voters of displaced persons who still have not returned to their pre-war residences within BiH.

So, the composite total of the entire population participating in these elections, as you see on the slide before you, is - almost 79 percent - are people who are voting in regular voting places throughout the country. The absentee population represents about - almost six percent of the voters participating in the election. And the mail voters, those who cast their ballots and register to vote by mail, is about seven percent. And the voters living in FRY and Croatia, within this population actually participating in this election this year, is about 2.35 percent of the population. And these are actual - the voter composite for the turnout of these elections. I think that it is important to recognize that by-mail voters have completely changed this year. In 1997, we had 267,000 by-mail voters participating in the elections for the municipalities in 1997. This year, that number has been reduced to approximately 155,000 voters, who applied successfully to continue their option to vote by mail. We know that this has been the year of the return. It is estimated that approximately 115,000 refugees have returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina over the course of 1998.

Another feature that has changed this year is the participation by absentee voters, in general. We found that our turn-out by - absentee voters within the country - was quite low. In addition, the voters voting in FRY and Croatia was below what our expectations were, based on prior year experiences. For example, it is estimated that the FRY and Croatia voters - the turn-out was less than 50 percent. Absentee in-country was running about 30 percent of the normal expectation.

All together, the turn-out for this year's elections are running about 71 percent of the total registered voter population. If that number is lower that usual, it is in the absentee categories that we find the lowest turn-out. Of the by-mail voters who participated in the election, 80 percent actually participated and returned their ballots and those ballots were included in the count and turn-out for the voter response as a whole.

As you can see, approximately 1,879,000 voters cast their ballots in these elections. And as Ambassador Barry pointed out earlier in our discussion this evening, the thought was that there would be voter apathy. We did not find that to be the case, especially for the by-mail voters and also, the voters voting in regular voting places throughout the country.

I'd like to talk about another general category of voters - and it is a service that you have heard a lot about, have written a lot about - and I'd like to explain some of the elements of that process to you, so you have a better understanding of why it is important to these elections, why we anticipated certain needs of voters - to accommodate them - and that is, through the tendered ballot process. There has been a lot of controversy over whether tendered ballot process reflects some weakness in the system - and we would like to point out that it is a very powerful benefit, to allow the maximum number of voters to participate, regardless of their current circumstance. This year, in 1998, 188,000 people voted by the tendered ballot method. This program was initiated in 1997 and continued through these elections.

Basically, it is a program that is very, very simple. If a voter presents him or herself at a polling station, but does not appear on that segment of the voter register, they are still allowed to cast a ballot. It is called a tendered ballot because the ballot is not just dropped in the ballot box, but it is sealed in a secrecy envelope. The individual's personal details are written on the outside of that envelope and the eligibility of that voter is evaluated to determine whether the ballot is eligible to be counted; in particular, whether the person is a bona fide registered voter within Bosnia-Herzegovina. Secondly, did they present themselves and receive a ballot for which they are eligible to vote. Out of the 188,000 people who took advantage of this option, they fell into several categories. Most of them, approximately 60 percent, were strictly in the wrong polling station. That could mean the refugee who had originally registered outside the country and had returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina without having the opportunity to(TAPE END)people who were not eligible, from participating in the election - from voting in it. The other 40 percent were found not to be eligible for various reasons; 28 percent, or 29 percent, were those people who were not found to have ever registered to vote and were therefore not eligible to participate in the election. Another reason why a voter might not have been eligible to cast a tendered ballot - is that the person's citizenship in BiH could not be confirmed. We also found that approximately 1,800 people had already cast a ballot by mail. These people had already received their ballots, as early as three, four, five weeks prior to election day, had mailed it and clearly returned to the country afterwards. We also found that approximately 5,800 people had attempted to vote a tendered ballot on another occasion - at a different polling station. The tendered ballot process allows us to evaluate those people who are attempting to vote more than once. Sometimes they do it only to make sure - they - might get their ballot counted. And some people perhaps are trying to take advantage of a system that is meant to serve those voters with the greatest need for it. Some voters also presented themselves at polling stations where a ballot that they received was not a ballot for which they were eligible. For example, a voter who has registered for the - in Republika Srpska - presented himself at a Federation polling place and received a Federation ballot. So, clearly, the ballot was rejected because the person was not eligible to vote it.

And finally, the last category - is , because we must rely on the information about a voter to determine their eligibility against the final voters register - sometimes, polling station officials failed to provide enough information on which we could make a decision about the voter's eligibility. It is an unfortunate circumstance. But, all together, the tendered ballot process serves two important processes. First, to allow the voters with the greatest need to have access to the process, even if their circumstances do not allow them to get to the proper polling station. And secondly, it is a formidable way to prevent those that might abuse the system from casting a ballot to which they are not entitled. So, 60 percent of the voters, who have cast tendered ballots, had their ballots in full. There is a small proportion of those voters who also had only part of their ballot counted. And those would be people, primarily in the Federation, who presented themselves, perhaps in a different canton than where they are actually eligible to vote and, therefore, we counted all the races, except the canton race. And, in a very few circumstances, we counted all those portions of the ballot, except a specific municipality, where the municipal portion of the ballot would not be eligible to be counted, because the person was not in the municipality - was not registered there. So, the tendered ballot process, while complicated, certainly labor intensive for us - I think it is a - an invaluable process that has served the voters of this country extremely well in 1997 - and again in 1998.

Nicole Szulc, OSCE: Thank you, Linda. And that concludes the presentation part of tonight's press conference. I'm going to ask Linda to change seats with the High Representative, so that he may join Ambassador Barry and take some of your questions. Ambassador Westendorp. Gentlemen, your questions please.

Amb. Robert Barry, OSCE Head of Mission: Let me first turn the floor over to the High Representative.

Carlos Westendorp, High Representative: Just a very quick assessment - after hearing the results of the elections. Well, the first is that these elections have been more peaceful, more quiet and much more Democratic than the last elections. The turn-out has been very high, in spite of the so-called voter fatigue, as Ambassador Barry has pointed out. There is more pluralism and more moderation, as a whole, in the - in Bosnia-Herzegovina - as a result of these elections. And this is a positive trend. The more extreme nationalistic parties are decreasing, the monopoly of the three most important ethnic parties is decreasing - and there is more opposition in both entities, and among the three constituent peoples. The central institutions are going to be improved by the results of these elections - clearly improved. We have, already, three members of the Joint Presidency, with whom the International Community is certain will cooperate much better than in the past. One of the key elements is that, in - the Serb Member of the Republika Srpska - of the Presidency - is going to be Mr. Radisic, a representative of the Socialist Party, and not Momcilo Krajisnik, with whom, you all know, it has been impossible to work in the past, and this is another good news. Another good news is that in the House of Representatives and in the Houses of Peoples, there will be much more pluralism and it is unlikely that there will be majorities to veto the process of the implementation of Dayton. Finally, in Republika Srpska, the Radical and SDS parties are following the trend that took place in '97, which is that they lost the absolute, the overall majority they had in '96. In '97, they lost it, and on this particular occasion, the percentage of their votes are lower that in the past year, and the Sloga Coalition plus the different Federation parties, which now form the government in Republika Srpska, will have hopefully, according to these votes, the majority of the seats in the RS Assembly, which will indicate that there is a possibility of going with the cooperation with Republika Srpska, in spite, of course, of the election of the President, instead of Biljana Plavsic, Nikola Poplasen, from whom I have heard his commitment to implement Dayton fully. So, all in all, my assessment of these elections (is it was) as expected, that it has been improved in comparison with '96 and '97. Of course, this is just a step in the right direction, a step in the process of democratizing Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Journalist, Q, Do you have a final or even approximate figure for the total number of candidates disqualified?

Amb. Robert Barry, OSCE Head of Mission: There were three categories of candidate disqualification. First of all , there were the ones who never demonstrated their eligibility, That is, they could not - they either were not registered voters, or they were registered in a different area than the one in which they ran. There were about 410 candidates who failed to qualify. They were not disqualified, but they never did demonstrate their eligibility. There was a second category of candidates who were removed from candidate lists by the Election Appeals Sub-Commission. I do not have a total number of people who were so dealt with, but I am sure Nicole can get that for you. It is somewhat smaller than the number in 1997, which was, if memory serves me correctly, 70. That was out of a total of 6,000 candidates, because when you add up all the candidates from all the parties, it is that quite large figure. There is another category of people who hold two elected positions simultaneously, or may now. That is because of the dual-citizenship arrangement with Croatia. There are a certain number of people who have been elected to elective office in Croatia and who were candidates in this year's election. In that case, our rules prohibit their holding two sets of elected office. So, we will take everybody who is elected this year - who already holds office in Croatia - and say we will not certify your election in Bosnia-Herzegovina unless we have proof that you have resigned your elective office in Croatia. I don't know yet how large that number is because we haven't done the seat allocation yet, but it will be a large enough number to be significant.

Nicole Szulc, OSCE: Just one note before we go any further. I meant to mention this at the beginning, but in the heat of the moment I forgot. For the first time ever, at least since the war, and except for the Presidential Debates, this press conference is being carried live over RTV BiH, OBN, SRT and Arotel. So, we welcome the viewers of the entire country.

Journalist, Q, I was just going to say you made very strong comments about Momcilo Krajisnik, but it seemed Ms. Szulc still wanted him, if you didn't. On that humorous note, you know, there has been a lot of chaos in the last year. OSCE has been running these elections now for three years. There have been allegations of all sorts of impropriety, I mean even sexual impropriety, or whatever, in terms of the type of people who are employed, and things like that. So, I mean I heard this while I've been here. I mean, I remember a year ago a dazzling array of internationals - from America, many of them Democrats - or whatever - Spain and many other places, and I didn't see their faces here. It seemed almost like they were ethnically cleansed out of the OSCE. I mean it has taken two weeks to count this election of less than 2 million votes. I know it is complicated, and even tonight, with this massive array of pressmen that you have got - I mean, giving the results now, almost at 10 o'clock - unless somebody shoots one of you, they are not going to take my feed. You know, I am doing freelance for British newspapers. I mean, do you not think OSCE needs a complete change of personnel in this country to regain any credibility? That really is my basic question, because I think so many mistakes have been made, and though you think the turn-out looks good, there were nearly 100,000 people who couldn't vote, because polling stations didn't work, because their registration didn't work or because of other things. I mean, this is a very serious allegation, with tens of millions of pounds and dollars worth of taxpayers' money being used to fund this operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I mean, I don't want to be too negative. I know there's many positive things, but I want to make this point to you tonight. Thank you.

Amb. Robert Barry, OSCE Head of Mission: If that was a question, I might just respond to it. For example, there were 2,650 international supervisors from all the nations of the OSCE who came here - and Japan and other countries as well - who came here for the election. I am not sure I understand at all your idea of the ethnic cleansing of OSCE. As to mistakes, everybody makes mistakes, but I would say that in the conduct of this year's election, there were definite advances over any previous year's election. As to 100,000 voters not being eligible to vote, I don't know where you got that figure. As far as we can tell, the turn-out demonstrates the amount of time the polling places stayed open, which was until the last voter wanted to vote. I think we accommodated all the voters that wanted to vote. I think that the rules and regulations under which the elections were conducted this year were superior to those in previous years and that it helped to produce superior results. I would add that OSCE does things not only at election time, but year-round helping to train political parties, helping to support political party development, helping to support people who are coming back as refugees, and to help protect their human rights when they are in minority neighborhoods. So, the answer to you question, in short, is no.

Carlos Westendorp, High Representative: Let me just add, although I am not a supervisor of OSCE, just to add some more positive notes on the remarks of your British colleague. First of all, you all remember, because I was here last year, how difficult the last elections were when there were threats of boycotts by very important political parties that we had to overcome with a lot of work, a lot of effort going and visiting the neighboring countries and the neighboring countries' leaders. Well, this time, there have not been any serious threats of boycotts. In terms of time to give the results, you have to take into account that last year, it took one month. The year before last, it took more than three weeks. This time, it has been only twelve days, so it is a clear improvement. It is the positive I was talking about.

Journalist, Q, Mr. Barry, in regard to this delay, I would like to tell you a joke before I ask a question about the pre-war elections. A Russian, an American and a Yugoslav man were talking about who could count election votes fastest. The Russian said they were the fastest because the day after the elections, they gave results. The American said they would have the results at midnight. And the Yugoslav said, we know it four years in advance.

In regards to the fact that we were counting the election by hand - and I, too, participated in that - we counted twice as fast as now. The great majority of parties and citizens made remarks that the results were not stated yet. And they do not accept the explanations so far given. Can we have a better explanation than those we've gotten so far? Thank You.

Amb. Robert Barry, OSCE Head of Mission: In the first place, you are right. In Yugoslavia before, people were able to get the results quickly because they knew before the vote what the result was going to be, and so, this may have created a certain amount of impatience in the Yugoslav voter, who was not used to uncertainty about election results. We didn't - we weren't late with election results. We thought it was worthwhile to wait to announce them until we had counted them. That wasn't always the case in the former Yugoslavia. The fact that we had to count tendered ballots was, of course, the thing that took the most time. The tendered ballot enabled 100,000 people, who would not have otherwise had their vote count, to be able to come to a polling place, to turn in a ballot, and to get that approved. That is what took us the extra time. If we had not had to count those tendered ballots, or if we were ready to announce the results before we had counted all the ballots, then we could have done it much sooner. As we have said here before, if you can wait 14 days in Israel in 1992, in the elections that elected Mr. Netanyahu, then I think you can wait 12 days here, and maybe the impatience is due to the fact that you are not used to not knowing who's going to be elected.

Journalist, Q, Mr. Westerndorp, a moment before, you expressed satisfaction that Momcilo Krajisnik is not a member of the BiH Presidency anymore. In your opinion, is it only Serb national parties' representatives that have been a threat to the peace in BiH - and not the representatives of the Croat and Muslim national parties?

Carlos Westendorp, High Representative: Nothing to do with parties. It is something related to a particular person, who according to my experience of more than one year and one-half has not been cooperating with the construction Bosnia-Herzegovina and the implementation of the peace agreement. The other two members of the Presidency, even though representing national parties, have been much more cooperative.

Nicole Szulc, OSCE: More questions? In that case, thank you very much for coming. Thank you for your patience with us this evening, and I am sure we will be seeing each other real soon.


 [ Go to Transcripts ]  [ Go to NATO
Homepage ]