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IRI Poll Cited by Balkan Insight

June 20, 2018

Bosnians Pessimistic About Future, IRI Poll Shows

Balkan Insight 

By Mladen Lakic

About 86 per cent of Bosnians believe the country is heading in the wrong direction while only 9 per cent believe it is moving in the right direction, a new poll suggests.

The data come from the International Republican Institute, IRI, which released the new poll on Tuesday.

It was conducted on behalf of the IRI's Center for Insights by the Ipsos market research and consulting firm in March and April 2018 on 1,513 Bosnians.

IRI Deputy Director for Europe Paul McCarthy called the findings disturbing, and said Bosnian officials should be aware of them and try to resolve people's concerns.

"There is a danger that these sentiments could be manipulated by illiberal forces both within and outside of the country to fuel extremism. It is crucial that the government of Bosnia take steps to address the issues contributing to these negative attitudes," he told the IRI website.

Bosnia's biggest problem is unemployment, according to 57 per cent of those who participated in the survey.

Corruption and bribery, the poor economy, low salaries and pensions and politicians and political parties are listed among top five biggest problems that Bosnia faces.

The security situation is deemed unsatisfactory by 53 per cent of those who responded to the survey, while 42 per cent are concerned about ethnic-nationalist extremism.

Some 35 per cent said they believed organised crime is the biggest security threat to Bosnia, followed by conflict between ethnic groups and between religious groups.

The study showed that Bosnians remain "traditional" when it comes to the use of the media, as 66 per cent of them listed the TV as the main source of their daily political news; 18 per cent use internet portals and sites.

When it comes to preferences about foreign powers, Turkey was ranked first; 21 per cent said they saw its role in Bosnia as mostly positive.

Russia came second with the support of 20 per cent. The US came third with the support of 13 per cent and Saudi Arabia came fourth with 10 per cent.

The findings broadly reflect the country's ethnic and religious divisions, with many Muslim Bosniaks looking to Turkey or Saudi Arabia, Serbs looking to Russia and Croats to the US.

According to the findings, 76 per cent of Bosniaks see Turkey's role as positive while 77 per cent of Bosnian Serbs see Russia's influence in the same way and 40 per cent of Bosnian Croats feel the same about the US.

Only 37 per cent Bosnians strongly support membership of NATO – 58 per cent of Bosniaks, 44 per cent of Bosnian Croats and a mere 5 per cent of Bosnian Serbs.

Bosnians are more united on the topic of the European Union, however. Some 64 per cent of all Bosnians strongly support EU membership.

Lack of economic opportunities and poverty are the main reasons why people leave Bosnia to fight in foreign countries, according to 37 per cent of the respondents – and 49 per cent said they see those who return from fighting in foreign countries as a security threat.

Some 41 per cent are satisfied with the current political order in Bosnia – 27 per cent of Bosnian Serbs, 46 per cent of Bosniaks and 48 per cent of Bosnian Croats.