For years the best description of the political situation in Bosnia-Hercegovina has been “stagnant but stable”. Now, with astonishing speed, analysts are already talking about a “Bosnian Spring”. In Tuzla, Mostar, Zenica and Sarajevo, government buildings have been set on fire and there have been demonstrations across much of the rest of the country. Hundreds have been injured, including policemen.
Politicians have condemned “hooligans” for the violence but many are frightened. Pictures have gone viral of cars, allegedly belonging to politicians, which have been tipped into a canal in Zenica. The trouble began in the northern town of Tuzla on Wednesday. Workers from several factories which were privatised and which have now gone bankrupt united to demand action over jobs, unpaid salaries and pensions. The workers were joined by students and political activists. After they began stoning the local court, violence broke out.
Bosnia’s four-year war ended in 1995, and since then there have been few protests over social issues. Up to 2006, there was progress in making Bosnia something of a more functional state. But ever since, Bosnian politics have been in a state of utter stalemate and like the rest of the western Balkans, the country has been hit hard by years of economic crisis.