JOHNSTON, Iowa -- One University of North Carolina professor is campaigning to be the President of Bosnia. Part of his campaign is touring America to visit successful Bosnians in order to help promote political engagement back in Bosnia.
Mirsad Hadzikadic is no stranger to Bosnian politics, he finished 4th in this year’s presidential election. Now he has four more years until the next election and is using that time to start a political movement to bring change to what he calls a dysfunctional country.
“The country is non-functional, or dysfunctional, in a sense that its current constitution is preventing it from joining the prosperous countries in the world,” Hadzikadic said.
The Bosnian war ended more than 20 years ago but Hadzikadic said the country is divided along ethnic and political lines and the constitution is encouraging it.
“There is a lot of fear and fear is being used to gain power,” Hadzikadic said. “We have to get to a point where everybody’s equally valuable, and valued in the country, everybody has the same rights and responsibilities.”
Something he sees in Bosnians here in America, which is why he is touring successful Bosnian businesses around the country and speaking with the communities.
“People here can really contribute, they’re educated, they are economically doing well, they have learned democracy, they have learned a way where you actually are expected to contribute to the country,” Hadzikadic said.
But not without a lot of hard work and appreciation. Bosnians lost everything in the war, came to American and started from scratch. Sabina Smlatic and her husband Sanad started Quick Steel Fabrication Inc. in Johnston with 200 dollars, now they run a million-dollar company.
“We truly accomplished the American dream, we opened the company, we have another company too, then we have Mission fitness,” Smlatic said.
Mission fitness is a group training gym in Waukee, where Sabina is a business partner.
“I know that they’re very hardworking and they’re determined and when they want to get something accomplished, they get it accomplished,” Mission Fitness Owner Berniece Haroldson said.
Mirsad Hadzikadic wants to promote this success by increasing political engagement not only in Bosnia but here in America as well. He is putting an emphasis on voting. He says after the war 450 thousand Bosnians voted, four years ago only 37 thousand Bosnians voted, and this year even less. He is touring America to try to fix some of that political disengagement since Bosnians in America still have the right to vote in Bosnia.