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Bosnia and Herzegovina possesses both a history marked by ethnic differences and a tradition of tolerance and coexistence among religious groups. The millet system of Ottoman times depended upon the authority of confessional communities. With the rise of nationalism in the 1800’s, religious identity and organization became complicated by ethnicity. Later, the authoritarianism of Tito enabled the state to accommodate this multinational, multi-religious character, uniting people as socialist Yugoslavs. Thus, the collapse of the socialist, Yugoslavian ideals and structures created new and sometimes polarizing choices for the population. Previously authoritarian government mediated religious and ethnic relations, but now coexistence depended upon elected leaders and a democratic polity. Bosnia and Herzegovina has struggled (indeed fought) through the first two decades of its independence. This research contends, however, that tolerance and cosmopolitanism can reemerge. The paper focuses upon the perception of voters of the Social Democratic Party as an example of a secular, new left party, and an alternative to parties which operate based upon ethnoreligious identities. The research uses the European Value Study to examine popular views of political parties, and assess the issues and interests of their members, concluding that changing demographics might dictate a further move from ethnoreligious affiliations and toward secular parties.
Joan Davison. "What Matters to Social Democratic Party Voters? Liberal and Economic Interests trump Ethnoreligious Identity in Bosnia and Herzegovina." Civis 2 (2013) 5-19.