Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Disunited democracy

Yesterday we arrived back in Bosnia and Herzegovina after three weeks in England. Most of the people we met during this trip have never seen this country. If they have heard of it their only frame of reference is usually news reports from the early nineties. We tried hard to give them a fair picture of how things are now. This included enthusing about the hospitable people and the beautiful countryside, as well as talking about the segregation ingrained in society and the state of political stalemate that saps all sense of hope from most normal people we meet. Sadly these last two points can be linked to the international intervention the ended the armed conflict. This intervention did stop the killing, of which there had been a lot, but progress towards a fully functioning democracy has not been so quick. At least that's what I used to think.

It was the Belgium elections in 2010 that first got me questioning. It went without government for 541 days while political parties failed to form a coalition, comfortably breaking the world government formation record of 249 days set by Iraq, also in 2010. Iraq I can understand but this was Belgium; bland old Belgium, home of Tintin and the EU Parliament. Now the self-proclaimed last-superpower-standing has hung the 'back in 5 minutes' sign in its government shop window. Politicians ostensibly elected to serve the interests of their constituents are putting on a fine display of looking after their own. I wonder if they have any concept of just how ridiculous that looks from where I'm sitting.

Some would say this country is patronised by the West: the promise of EU membership is hung out like a carrot for good behaviour; US politicians lecture on the need for the different sides to work constructively for the future. Jesus once quoted the proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself’ and people here could be forgiven for thinking the same. Those who would police the world would do well to be in a healthy place before preaching a miracle cure...although the disunited democracy the United States of America is currently displaying is certainly easier to achieve. There's hope for Bosnia and Herzegovina yet.

1 comment:

Shunj said...

Here is a great book for you:

"Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia" by Brendan Simms.