In Bosnia, National Identity is a Political Tool, Subject to Change

Anyone can declare their nationality as they see fit, but experts say some politicians in Bosnia are abusing the right for political gain.

In October 2018, Zvonko Maric was elected as a deputy in the cantonal assembly of Sarajevo, one of 10 that make up the mainly Bosniak and Croat Federation entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Under the Bosnian system, each cantonal assembly sends delegates to the upper house of the Federation parliament, known as the House of Peoples, which at that time was composed of 17 Bosniaks, 17 Croats, 17 Serbs and seven delegates representing national minority communities.

Two months after his election to the Sarajevo cantonal assembly, Maric was nominated as one of the canton’s Croat delegates in the House of Peoples. Due to the electoral math, Maric’s chances as a Croat were not great; but when his name appeared on the list of elected delegates, Maric was listed as one of 17 Bosniaks.

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