A recent law on referendums that could technically pave the way for Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska, to legally hold a public referendum at some point on independence from Bosnia and Herzegovina should be seen for what it is: An election-year ploy to keep an impossible issue alive.
The international media has been all over the announcement, grabbing headlines with dark fears of secession and boiling ethnic tensions. Republika Srpska leader Milorad Dodik is certainly in his element, and he is more than adept at navigating the international media as well as wooing Bosnian Serb voters. He is savvy and on top of things, and his tactics tend to work.
A referendum on independence is out of the question, and he knows this – though is happy to keep his supporters thinking otherwise – and the rhetoric surrounding this issue (as always) intensifies during an election year. All Dodik needs to do to score points with increasingly disillusioned Bosnian Serbs is bring up the issue with a renewed zeal around about election time and votes are assured.