We have come a long way since the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995. There are signs that the popularity of the old nationalist parties, still largely led by the country’s wartime leaders, could be on the wane. The elections in Croatia at the beginning of the year, at which the late President Franjo Tudjman’s nationalist Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party was roundly defeated, have sent a message to their southern neighbours that can hardly be ignored.
That message is simple: if enough people want change, then change cannot be resisted. In other words, democracy does work – even in the Balkans. Many of us peace implementors are hoping that on 8 April, the public will take advantage of this chance for change, and follow the example of Croatia.