Lessons learned from the Kosovo elections

Gjorgji Spasov

In the 2017 elections in Kosovo, military leaders (KLA commanders – Haradinaj, Vejseli and Limaj) united in one pre-election coalition (PANA) and won 33 percent of the vote, providing them with 39 seats in the Kosovo Parliament and the opportunity to form the government.
In those elections, the ultra-leftist and populist movement, Albin Kurti’s Self-Determination (The Vetevendosje Movement) won just over 200,000 votes, or 27 percent of the vote and 32 seats in Parliament, but it was not enough for them to form a government.
The Democratic Alliance of Kosovo (LDK), which won 185,000 votes and 29 seats, also stayed in opposition. After long uncertainty, Ramush Haradinaj formed a government with 39 MPs of the PANA coalition, 20 MPs of minority parties and two MPs that left the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo coalition, who were members of the New Alliance for Kosovo of Behgjet Pacolli, who in turn won the post of foreign minister in that government for that favor.
Ramush Haradinaj’s government, despite all obstruction by the opposition parties, has been able to ratify the Border Agreement with Montenegro, backed by President Hashim Thaci, he also negotiated with Serbia for normalizing the countries’ relations, and after Serbia halted Kosovo’s accession to Interpol, customs imposed by 100 percent of imports of goods from Serbia, after which lost the support of Serbian MPs in Parliament, and talks with Serbia were suspended.
In the meantime, partner relations in the 2017 PANA pre-election coalition have deteriorated.
Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj clashed with Kadri Veseli as Parliament Speaker (who succeeded Hashim Thaci’s PDK leadership), and Behgjet Pacolli as foreign minister was sharply criticized that Serbia and Russia’s foreign policy towards Kosovo had more success than his.
After Haradinaj resigned as prime minister over a call by the International Court of Justice in The Hague for a hearing about events following the war conflict, it was clear that there were no conditions for forming a new government, and that there would be new early parliamentary elections.

In these elections on October 6, the leaders of the PANA coalition came out individually with their parties.
According to the count so far, 97 percent of the vote, along with an increased turnout of 3 percent compared to 2017, has garnered far more support from citizens than it did back then. In the 2017 elections, the PANA coalition of Kadri Veseli, Ramush Haradinaj and Fatmir Limaj won 245,000 votes, or 33.7%.
In this election, Veseli’s party (PDK) won 194,000 votes or 21%, Haradinaj’s party won 90,000 votes or 11%, while Limaj’s party won 38,000 or about 5%.
Combined, the parties of the former PANA coalition (now strengthened by their coalition with Pacolli’s party New Alliance for Kosovo and Shpend Ahmeti’s Social Democratic Party) won 322,000 votes, or 37% of the total number of votes.
The winner of the elections, Albin Kurti’s opposition party, which declared victory in this election and is likely to win the mandate to form a new government, garnered just over 200,000 votes in the 2017 elections, which was then 27 percent of the vote body and remained in opposition. In this elections, a three percent turnout also garnered 200,000 votes, which now represent about 26 percent of the electorate.
Also the second party, considered the winner of this elections, Isa Mustafa’s Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), won about 186,000 votes in the 2017 elections. The party then ran in an election coalition with Behgjet Pacolli’ small party, which was 25 percent of the vote back then.
In these elections, the LDK won 194 thousand votes, which, as in 2017, is 25% of the total number of votes.
The Serb List, a minority party backed by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, won 44,578 votes or 6.12% in the 2017 elections, and now won 49,654 or 6.41%, thus gaining 10 MPs in the Kosovo Assembly.
Therefore, it is difficult to argue that in the period between the previous parliamentary elections in 2017 and now there had been a substantial change in the electoral mood. But the fact remains that the opposition, which remained intact and retained its electoral support two years ago, amid the collapse of the coalition of military commanders who had been in power for the past 12 years, will finally form a new government.
Whether this collapse of the coalition of military commanders has been suggested by outsiders to bring about a peaceful change of government in Kosovo might be unveiled sometime in the future. But it is clear that Kosovo needed a change of government after 12 years, and a government that Albin Kurti had already pledged to “put an end to state crime, corruption and nepotism”, a government that would work with the United States, Germany and other partners from Western Europe, to normalize relations with Serbia, and a government that would include the LDK’s female candidate for Prime Minister, young professor Vjosa Osmani, to reduce possible blackmail by the 10 MPs of the Serb List.

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik