Bosnia’s Nasa Stranka visits York

Nasa Stranka in YorkOne of the highlights of this year’s Spring Conference for us as a Local Party, led by our deputy group leader Cllr Ann Reid, was hosting some representatives of our Bosnian sister party, Nasa Stranka.

Nationally links between our two parties are already well-established, with joint working around campaigns, training and promoting women in politics. But for anyone who doesn’t follow Bosnian politics as closely as we do….

Nasa Stranka (‘Our Party’ in Bosnian) was founded in 2008 to offer an alternative to the dominant nationalist parties, and over the past six years has established itself as the leading socially liberal and progressive voice in Bosnian politics. Nasa Stranka is also a shining example of achieving gender equality, with 46% female representation at the local level.

Over Conference we were very pleased to meet Ena, Amra, Jasmina, Elma, and Vildana, who are five of Nasa Stranka’s female candidates standing for election this October in Sarajevo. We had a great discussion on effective local campaigning, including:

  • Building effective relationships with the media – less easy when some of the channels are owned by opposition politicians!
  • Promoting the participation of women and young people in politics
  • Communicating with voters through leaflets, door-knocking, and online.

We received some very useful feedback on our literature, and hopefully Nasa Stranka will have learnt something from us too.

The Clifton action day also presented an unmissable opportunity to gain some first-hand experience of what being a Lib Dem in York is all about – delivering Focus.

Harriet Shone, International Officer at Lib Dem HQ, commented:

Nasa Stranka are miles ahead of their competitors on female representation, earning their reputation as the ‘women’s party’ in Bosnia. We have been working with their female candidates for over a year, helping them to the gain confidence and skills necessary to win their local seats in the elections later this year and giving them the opportunity to see how the Liberal Democrats campaign on the ground in places like York. Through this programme we aim to support liberal growth in Bosnia but also to take this opportunity to learn from Nasa Stranka how they have been so successful in promoting and supporting women within their party.

Thank you to the Lib Dem International Office for their help in organising the event, and of course to Nasa Stranka – and best of luck in October!

* Keith Aspden has been the Councillor for Fulford Ward in York since 2003 and for Fulford and Heslington Ward since 2015. Since 2019 he is the Leader of City of York Council, and the Liberal Democrat Deputy Chair of the LGA Fire Services Management Committee.

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One Comment

  • Alex Macfie 14th Apr '16 - 9:53am

    One serious obstacle to creating a non-sectarian Bosnian identity is that the constitution institutionalises sectarianism, most notably in the Joint Presidency, which alwyas has to consist of a Serb, a Croat and a Bosniak and you can only vote for one. This effectively turns anyone who does not wish to identify exclusively with one of these three tribal identities into a second-class citizen. And it benefits extremists, as candidates only have to seek out votes from people in their own “tribe”. A liberal agenda for Bosnia should look at how the country’s systems implicitly encourage extremism by blocking out people who want to move on from toxic identity politics. The country’s constitution should acknowledge different identities, yes, but not institutionalise them.

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