Scott Morrison hails 'miracle' as Coalition snatches unexpected victory

The Coalition has been re-elected in a shock result in which Labor lost seats in Queensland, Tasmania and NSW and failed to make more than minimal gains nationally.But former prime minister Tony Abbot...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Coalition likely to win election in Trump-like upset, but Abbott loses Warringah

Against expectations, Scott Morrison has led the Coalition government back to power.Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-NDWith 57% of votes counted in the election, the ABC is projecting that the Coa...

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne - avatar Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

Infographic: what we know about the results of Election 2019 so far

As of 10.01pm Saturday, May 18 2019:...

Emil Jeyaratnam, Data + Interactives Editor, The Conversation - avatar Emil Jeyaratnam, Data + Interactives Editor, The Conversation

Bob Hawke, the environmental PM, bequeathed a huge 'what if' on climate change

Since the news broke of his passing, Bob Hawke has been feted as the “environmental prime minister”. From saving the Franklin River, to protecting Antarctica from mining, conservationists ...

Marc Hudson, Researcher, University of Manchester, University of Manchester - avatar Marc Hudson, Researcher, University of Manchester, University of Manchester

You are what you vote: the social and demographic factors that influence your vote

Your income, type of work, where you were born, and other social and demographic factors influences your vote more than you may think.The Conversation / ShutterstockAustralia has changed in many ways ...

Rob J Hyndman, Professor of Statistics, Monash University - avatar Rob J Hyndman, Professor of Statistics, Monash University

View from The Hill: Bob Hawke was master of managing government

It’s always easy to romanticise the past – in celebrating the prime ministership of Bob Hawke it is important to remember it had its peaks and troughs.Trouble marked many years – the...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Vic Stockwell’s Puzzle is an unlikely survivor from a different epoch

Sign up to the Beating Around the Bush newsletter here, and suggest a plant we should cover at batb@theconversation.edu.au.On the western side of Mount Bartle Frere, the tallest mountain in Queensland...

Andrew Thornhill, Research botanist at the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium of South Australia/Environment Institute, University of Adelaide - avatar Andrew Thornhill, Research botanist at the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium of South Australia/Environment Institute, University of Adelaide

Vital Signs: for the best election predictions, look to the betting markets, not the opinion polls

It turns out that betting markets are quite good predictors, on average.www.shutterstock.comOpinion polls haven’t done too well in some important recent elections.Polls failed to foresee the Bre...

Richard Holden, Professor of Economics, UNSW - avatar Richard Holden, Professor of Economics, UNSW

What I learned from Bob Hawke: economics isn't an end itself. There has to be a social benefit

When I was growing up in Adelaide in the 1970s I wanted to be like Bob Hawke. Other kids generally wanted to be cricket, football or rock stars. I wanted to be a research officer with the Australian C...

Tim Harcourt, J.W. Nevile Fellow in Economics and host of The Airport Economist, UNSW - avatar Tim Harcourt, J.W. Nevile Fellow in Economics and host of The Airport Economist, UNSW

GetUp!'s brand of in-your-face activism is winning elections – and making enemies

GetUp! protesters outside the second leaders' debate in Adelaide earlier this month.David Mariuz/AAPIt can be hard for a political cause to get noticed in a jaded world awash with information, but con...

Mark Rolfe, Honorary associate, School of Social Sciences, UNSW - avatar Mark Rolfe, Honorary associate, School of Social Sciences, UNSW

VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on the passing of Bob Hawke - and the final campaign push

University of Canberra Deputy Vice-Chancellor Leigh Sullivan speaks to Michelle Grattan about the week in politics. They discuss the passing of former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke and his legacy, as...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

As we face pressing global issues, the pavilions of Venice Biennale are a 21st century anomaly

One of the most powerful images at this year's Venice Biennale is Christoph Büchel's Barca Nostra, 2018-2019, Shipwreck 18th of April 2015. La Biennale di VeneziaThe 58th Venice Biennale of Art o...

Felicity Fenner, Associate Professor at UNSW Art & Design, UNSW - avatar Felicity Fenner, Associate Professor at UNSW Art & Design, UNSW

This is what happens to a baby's body during birth

Delivering a human baby – which has a large, highly developed brain – is risky for mother and baby. jaredandmelanie/flickr , CC BYPregnancy, labour and delivery are incredibly physically ...

Ian Wright, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health Research, University of Wollongong - avatar Ian Wright, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health Research, University of Wollongong

Final poll wrap: Race tightens in Ipsos and Dutton just ahead in Dickson, plus many more seat polls

The election campaign is finally coming to an end, with Australians to head to the polls tomorrow.AAP/Bianca de Marchi/Tracey NearmyThe federal election will be held tomorrow. Polls close at 6pm Austr...

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne - avatar Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

imageA corrupt, inefficient system? Better call FIFA.EPA/Fehim Demir

Bosnia and Herzegovina recently held its seventh general election since the end of the 1992-1995 war – a conflict that left more than 100,000 dead. On the face of it, the obvious victors of these elections appear to be the country’s dominant nationalist parties, which have held power for almost two decades.

But after four particularly turbulent years – in which the country suffered catastrophic flooding, anti-government riots, and almost total institutional gridlock – there are the stirrings of change.

For the first time in almost a decade, the leading political elites seem to be willing to plan for the future rather than talking in circles about ethnicity. There is now hope both inside and outside Bosnia and Herzegovina that this may be the long-awaited moment for reform, nearly 20 years since the Balkans conflict ended.

Agreements have failed in the past but an unlikely inspiration could be used this time round for success. Popular opinion may cast FIFA as the bad guy at the moment, but it took decisive action when Bosnian football was falling apart at the seams. And its success can be replicated in the political arena.

Progress stalled

Bosnia and Herzegovina is governed by a complicated system of power-sharing between representatives of the country’s three main ethnic groups: Bosniaks, Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats. This system, guarantees ethnic representation at all levels of government, grants politicians representing each of the three groups extensive veto powers and sees the state presidency shared by a Bosniak, a Serb and a Croat.

imageMladen Ivanić shares the presidency with two others.Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

Power over many significant issues, such as education, healthcare and policing, is held, not by the central Bosnian state, but by the country’s two component entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska. Bringing in such a balanced system was important for securing an end to the Bosnian war but it is hugely inefficient. So inefficient, in fact, that it stands in the way of progress towards European Union and NATO membership.

As well as encouraging politicians to appeal to the electorate exclusively along ethnic lines, the narrow selection criteria for appointing candidates to political posts, including the presidency, excludes members of minority groups, such as Jews or Roma. This has not escaped the attention of the European Court of Human Rights.

And since there is little incentive for Bosnian politicians to promote reforms that would weaken their power, no agreement on constitutional reform has been reached in ten years of trying.

But the election in October has offered hope. There were victories for the main Bosniak and Croat nationalist blocs, as well as the main Serb opposition alliance. In its wake, the UK and Germany have signalled their intention to kick-start the reform process. Together they penned an open letter to the Bosnian people and called on the EU to reopen talks on the country’s path to European integration in exchange for a domestic agreement on reform.

Enter FIFA

The danger is that the initiative being pushed by the UK and Germany will meet with the same fate as the many that have preceded it. And that’s where FIFA comes in – even if recent corruption scandals might suggest that this particular body offers few lessons about how to play fair.

The Bosnian football federation was until recently governed by a power-sharing arrangement that bore a striking resemblance to the country’s presidency. It had one president representing Bosniaks, one representing Bosnian Serbs and another looking after the interests of Bosnian Croats. There was an executive committee composed of five members from each group.

FIFA and UEFA accepted this arrangement in the interests of rebuilding football in the country after the war. But things soon became difficult, particularly since the majority of the members of each of the three groups on the executive committee had to agree to any proposal, like any changes to the federation’s charter, before it was passed.

In October 2010, FIFA and UEFA announced that they wanted the arrangement to be reformed. When this was not forthcoming, they suspended the Bosnian national team and all club sides from international competition.

Within days of the April 2011 suspension, FIFA imposed a so-called “normalisation committee” on the national federation, headed by the popular former player Ivica Osim and charged with reforming the federation. Less than two months later, an agreement was reached and the suspension lifted.

The normalisation committee remained in place until December 2012, when Elvedin Begić was elected as the first sole president in the national federation’s history. The following year, the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team qualified for its first World Cup appearance.

Protest power

While this account might initially read like international interference in domestic affairs, it actually shows how FIFA and UEFA used local discontent in order to promote reform.

Fans and teams had been protesting against corruption for some time before the international ban. A particularly famous example came in May 2008, when the national team was scheduled to play in Iran. The fixture was widely seen as having been arranged for political and financial reasons rather than for the actual football.

In protest, manager Meho Kodro refused to lead the team and was sacked. Enraged at this decision, the national media vowed not to cover games and supporters and 19 players boycotted a friendly match against Azerbaijan.

Similarly, the widespread political protests of February 2014 demonstrated that appetite for reform is reaching new heights.

The EU and its member states need to find a way to harness this popular frustration rather than convening closed-shop talks with the nationalist parties.

Following FIFA and UEFA’s lead, the EU should go public with all the demands it would like to make of Bosnian leaders. It should also enforce clear and non-negotiable deadlines. Likewise, outside arbiters (such as Ivica Osim in FIFA’s case) could be used to address the concerns of those looking in on negotiations, including young people, women or students, whose interests are not always represented by the country’s nationalist blocs.

The story of football reform should also show the EU that it needs to be clearer about what it wants from Bosnia and Herzegovina before it will allow it into the European club.

It has been vague in the past and, crucially, failed to see through threats of punishment when progress has not been made on the goals set out. Local leaders have come to suspect that the EU is not particularly serious about reform. That’s not a criticism that could have been levelled at FIFA in 2011.

Of course, praising FIFA does not chime with the mood of the moment. Yet in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it achieved its goals quickly and efficiently and left a positive legacy behind.

European politicians need to follow FIFA’s lead by engaging with diverse local voices, setting out their reform expectations with much greater clarity and acting on threats to punish obstructionists who stand in the way of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s path to European integration.

image

Laurence Cooley has received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.

Jasmin Mujanović does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Read more http://theconversation.com/fifa-offers-a-surprise-lesson-on-how-to-reform-post-conflict-bosnia-and-herzegovina-34633