By Kaltrina Beqiri (Independent scholar, graduated at the University of Prishtina)
During last Sunday’s snap elections, 43, 20% of Kosovo’s citizens came out and voted to form the 7th legislature of the Republic Kosovo. Snap elections came as a result of the resignation of Prime Minister Haradinaj, who in July of this year, resigned from his post as Prime Minister, as he was invited by the Hague-based court on war crimes he allegedly committed during and after the 1998-1999 Kosovo conflict.
The election outcomes shows that Kosovo citizens voted for change. The opposition parties LVV (Self-Determination Movement) and LDK (Democratic League) received around 25% of votes. In contrast to that, the governing parties, which are also the war wing parties in Kosovo, faced defeat.
The PDK (Democratic Party) which was in power since 2007, lost its majority in the parliament and with only 21,25% is ranked at the third place. Its’ leader, Kadri Veseli, the Parliament Speaker of the Republic of Kosovo, spoke out after the first outcomes of Central Election Commission at a press conference: „…we worked very hard to win this election, but we did not win. The citizens have given their verdict, and we accept it. The PDK will go into opposition and we will continue to serve the nation and the state”. The acceptance of this negative outcome is rare in Kosovo, this reaction was also a surprise to the citizens. It must be seen as a sight of maturity of the party leader and should be followed by the other parties too. PDK’s election campaign was focused on “fighting corruption”, which of course is difficult to legitimize after 12 years into power and with several scandals. Being in opposition, Veseli has his historic chance to reform his party and clean it from the old figures and give space to the young generation. Time will show if he is ready and willing to do so.
As for the Prime Minister in leave, AAK’s Haradinaj (Alliance for the Future of Kosovo) which ran in a coalition with the PSD (social democratic), these elections brought them only 11,57%. It seems that voters punished the last government’s parties for their actions, such as setting up 23 Ministries and over 70 deputy ministers, salary increase for the public sector employees etc. It was the second time for him in the position of the Prime Minister of Kosovo, and both times he had to resign for the same reason.
The Srpska Lista, the Belgrade-backed party of the Serb minority got 6,61%, with a remarkable result in the Serb-majority municipalities of around 90%. The Serbian President Vucic praised this result as the “most convincing ones in its history”.
LDK which won 24,83%, ran with a woman as the prime minister candidate, Vjosa Osmani. LDK was an opposition party in the last legislature but has been twice a junior coalition partner to the PDK governments. This of course led to a mass dissatisfaction at their supporters for many years. It seems that the time in opposition had a good impact on the party, which had a very good outcome on this election. LDK has not even 1% votes less than the winner LVV.
The winner of the Kosovo elections 2019 is LVV with 25,50% of votes. On the last elections, LVV, was ranked in the third place. It will be the very first time that LVV will be in a government formation. As it never was a part of government, it is of course easier for them to attract the voters trust, especially after the last governments’ scandals and in a time of mass dissatisfaction. It will be the first leftist-social democratic leaded government in Kosovo. Since with only 25.50% of the elections outcome, it can clearly not form the government on itself, it has to reach a coalition agreement with the LDK to form the government. Taking into consideration that the upcoming government will face difficult processes and decisions, it needs more than the simple majority to defend and legitimize its actions. Not only will it be necessary to invite a third party to the coalitions but also create a consistent and unified political spectrum. The charismatic leader of LVV, Mr. Albin Kurti, as the winner of the elections, will be the next Prime Minister of Kosovo. Kurti is well known as a student activist against protesting Serbian repression in 1990’. With the LVV (at that time only as movement and not as a party) Kurti organised violent protests against Kosovo’s governments. The most famous protests of VV are the tear gas settings in the Parliament in 2015 against the government’s agreement with Serbia about the setup of an association of Serb-run municipalities and against the border demarcation with Montenegro. It will be interesting to see how Kurti will continue the peace deal dialogue with Belgrade, taking in consideration that he had a lot against the way, and the dialogue has continued until now. He declared himself against the 100% tariff on goods coming from Serbia, and that he will abolish them but will introduce other retaliatory measures against Serbia. Another very important issue which Kurti’s Cabinet will deal with is also the association of Serb majority communities which has still not defined the competences it will have.
Taking in consideration the nationalistic character of LVV and the hesitation that foreign leaders has had against them, it will be interesting to see how the upcoming government will perform in foreign policy. In other words, the need of change, that was clear to be heard by the citizens, transformed the political sphere of Kosovo. The outcome was kind of predictable, but it has also unpredictable consequences. The future of Kurtis Cabinet is unpredictable on its actions, whether he keeps his promises he did on his campaign or not. Both ways will for sure bring changes to Kosovo’s sociopolitical system, as well as its’ position on international relations.
Photo source: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/former-student-protest-leader-albin-kurti-wins-kosovo-election-s35nbm9n7