‘Difficult’ cases – Bosnia and Herzegovina

This is series of posts that identifies countries that almost comply with the definition of semi-presidentialism that is used in this blog, but which fail to do so on the basis of a certain, sometimes unusual provision, or where the date when semi-presidentialism started can be contested.

For some Bosnia and Herzegovina might classify as semi-presidential. However, while I will happily admit that it is on the cusp of semi-presidentialism, I tend to exclude it from my list of semi-presidential countries.

In a fairly recent article, Toal et al provide a nice diagram of the complicated set of institutions contained in the 1995 constitution. (Gearóid Ó Tuathail (Gerard Toal), John O’Loughlin, and Dino Djipa, ‘Bosnia-Herzegovina Ten Years after Dayton: Constitutional Change and Public Opinion’, in Eurasian Geography and Economics, 2006, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 61-75. Available online here).

The Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina is available here.

Article V states that the presidency consists of three members one Bosniac and one Croat, each directly elected from the territory of the Federation, and one Serb directly elected from the territory of the Republika Srpska. (See here for a previous post on semi-presidentialism in the Republika Srpska). The presidency rotates every eight months.

Article V 4 states that “The Presidency shall nominate the Chair of the Council of Ministers, who shall take office upon the approval of the House of Representatives” and clause c states “The Council of Ministers shall resign if at any time there is a vote of no-confidence by the Parliamentary Assembly.”

So, there is a directly elected president, a prime minister, and collective governmental responsibility to the legislature. This seems to make Bosnia and Herzegovina semi-presidential. For me, though, the complicating factor is the three-person revolving presidency. My assumption is that a presidency is a one-person institution and that the president must serve for a fixed term. The Bosnian presidency does not meet these requirements. So, I tend to exclude Bosnia from the list of semi-presidential countries, even if it is on the cusp.

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