From Sarajevo to Stormont

There’s an article in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs (“The Death of Dayton”) on how the fragile peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina following the Dayton Agreement is under threat from the unstable form of government in the country:

“To prevent any one group from dominating, quotas were adopted in national institutions.
…each representative can veto legislation that he believes undermines his own group’s vital interests. As a result, almost every important issue at the central government level is deadlocked.”
“Almost every public office – including low level public administration jobs – is allotted according to an ethic quota, a spoils system that has led to extensive patronage networks, corruption and inefficiencies.”
“With 160 government ministers and a bloated public sector that gobbles up nearly half of the country’s GDP, the framework is tailor made for those who wish to stoke ethnic antagonisms for political gain. These ethics chauvinists – in particular, Dodik and Silajdzic – preach to their respective constituencies and pledge to “protect” their groups. This in turn weakens moderates who advocate greater national unity and civic, rather than ethnic indentities.”

Sounds depressingly familiar to somewhere much closer to home…

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