Washington, DC—A new national poll by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) reveals strong feelings of pessimism among citizens and indicates vulnerabilities to external influence.
“The combination of high levels of pessimism, concerns for the country’s security situation and the belief that ethno-nationalism is the most common type of extremism is disturbing,” said IRI Deputy Director for Europe Paul McCarthy. “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 BiH take steps to address the issues contributing to these negative attitudes.”
A clear majority (86 percent) of respondents think the country is heading in the wrong direction, while only 9 percent believe it is heading in the right direction. A striking 53 percent find the country’s security situation to be unsatisfactory, with 42 percent of respondents expressing the view that ethno-nationalism is the most pervasive type of extremism in the country.
The survey also suggests that while most respondents are supportive of key transatlantic institutions, many are also in favor of cooperating with Russia on security interests, and do not think the U.S. should play a role in European security. A combined 56 percent either “strongly support” (37 percent) or “somewhat support” (19 percent) joining NATO, and a combined 75 percent either “strongly support” (49 percent) or “somewhat support” (26 percent) EU accession. Despite these pro-Western stances, 48 percent of citizens believe that Russia should be considered a partner in European security, while just 28 percent want the U.S. to play a role in European security.
“The split in attitudes toward Western institutions and Russia indicates that citizens of BiH could be vulnerable to manipulation by the Kremlin,” said McCarthy. “It is vital that transatlantic stakeholders invest in engagement in BiH to ensure that the country remains on a European—and democratic—trajectory.”
This survey was conducted on behalf of the Center for Insights in Survey Research by the Ipsos global market research and consulting firm. Data was collected between March 29 and April 12, 2018. The sample consisted of 1,513 citizens over the age of 18 and eligible to vote, and the margin of error was plus or minus 2.5 percent.