30 September 2019

Early elections in Kosovo. Controversies, statistics and uncertainties

Stelian Teodorescu

On 19.07.2019, the Kosovar prime-minister, Ramush Haradinaj, has resigned after he was asked to go to Hague to be investigated on the events he was part of during the war in Kosovo. Afterwards, the Kosovo Assembly (the Kosovar parliament) has agreed on organizing a meeting, on 22.08.2019, in order to plan early parliamentary elections and to dissolve itself, which actually happened through the vote of Kosovar parliamentarians.

Image source: Mediafax

A short summary on Ramush Haradinaj’s relations with the Hague Courthouse. The crisis of the Kosovar executive

The former Kosovar prime-minister was part of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), accused by the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia for war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Serbians, Gypsies and the Albanese, during the March-September 1998 events. Initially, R. Haradinaj was acquitted (April 2008) from all accusations, but they appealed it and, in 2010, the Appeal Court has partially re-judged the process in Hague, Holland. This process lasted more than two years and, on 29.11.2012, R. Haradinaj was acquitted, for the second time, from all the accusations.

Given that he was asked to go to Hague, the Kosovo Constitution imposed the president to appoint a new candidate for the establishment of a new government, to organize early elections in 30-45 days after consulting with the political parties or the coalitions that have the majority in the Kosovo Assembly (Kosovo Parliament).

As consequence, on 02.08.2019, the Kosovar president, Hashim Thaci, has asked the PANA[1] Coalition to come with another candidate proposal to establish a new coalition government, but they did not do it, because the other political parties opposed this initiative. Therefore, on 05.08.2019, the Kosovo Assembly has agreed to organize a meeting on 22.08.2019, planning on organizing early parliamentary elections and dissolve itself, which actually happened with Kosovar parliamentarians’ vote, who decided with 89 of the votes for to dissolve the parliament (of 120) and, implicitly, to organize the scrutiny.

The previous parliamentary elections, also early ones, were held on 11.06.2017, after adopting a motion of censure in the government of former Kosovar prime-minister, Isa Mustafa, on 10.05.2017.

KFOR provides security at the elections, EU is in charge with their correctness

EU will send 61 observers in Kosovo to supervise the early elections’ development from 06.10.2019, this way confirming the long term commitment, support and partnership between EU and Kosovo. "Kosovo remains a political priority for the EU and deploying an observer mission for the upcoming early parliamentary elections confirms our continuing engagement and commitment to supporting Kosovo's democratic processes”, stated EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and vice-president of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini. The EU observers’ team will be led by the chief-observer, Viola von Cramon- Taubadel[2].

Aware of the risks and major importance of the role he had in managing the security situation when the Kosovo early elections were developed and organized, on 06.10.2019, KFOR is doing security estimations.

Asked if the KFOR structures have information on the B-13 Albanese terrorist group that the Serbian mass-media says is intending to attack the North Mitrovica and Zubin Potok Serbians, before the Kosovo elections, Sabeta underlined that, according to his mandate, KFOR “has no role in conducting the rule of law or law enforcement in Kosovo and is not involved in the fight against terrorism, as it is not in accordance with its mandate, but KFOR is closely and constantly monitoring the situation.”

Given these circumstances, Sabeta underlined that KFOR is, however, ready to provide security for all Kosovo locals on the elections day: ““KFOR contributes to ensuring a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all citizens of Kosovo, in an impartial manner, regardless of their ethnicity, and remains committed to the security and stability of Kosovo”.

Some statistics, estimations and questions

According to the preliminary list of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), in Kosovo, 1.927.466 citizens have registered on the early parliamentary elections scheduled for 06.10.2019, despite the fact that, in 2018, the Kosovo Statistics Agency has said that Kosovo has around 1.795.666 million people. This great difference between the registered voters and the estimated population raises some controversies among the public opinion in Kosovo.

Thus, emerges the questions: how will the political scene in Pristina look like after 06.10.2019? The polls and political analyses made so far are suggesting that the political situation and the Kosovar citizens’ orientation are favoring the Self Determination Movement (LVV)/ leader Isa Mustafa, meanwhile the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) is competing for the third place. The fifth political group which could enter the Kosovo Assembly is the Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA), as the other political parties on the Kosovo political scene are, now, below the 5% level.

Given these circumstances, LVV and LDK (both in opposition until the Kosovo Assembly dissolution) are currently discussing about creating an alliance before the 06.10.2019 early elections.

Alike the previous parliamentary elections, the polls are showing that Albin Jurti has, again, great support from the voters, as candidate for the prime-minster of Kosovo position.

Within the analytical environments some voices are claiming that elections’ results may have a good influence on Kosovo’s complicated situation, by bringing a new legitimate government ready to face the current threats in combating organized crime and corruption, ensuring the economic development and the prevention of massive emigration, especially among the young people.

The members of Kosovar diaspora are planning on participating at the elections, but the support groups are saying that the process is still too complicated and time-consuming.

According to data provided by Kosovo Statistics Agency (KAS), 30% of the Kosovar population is living now abroad, also contributing to Kosovo’s GDP. However, it is estimated that only 400.000 people were registered as diaspora members by the Diaspora Ministry from Kosovo, the most realistic numbers referring to around 800.000 Kosovars living around the globe, many of them not being encouraged enough to ask for their constitutional rights.

Therefore, the early parliamentary elections’ results, from 06.10.2019, the establishment of a new majoritarian coalition and the installation of a new government to Pristina could create new opportunities/ challenges whose exploitation by different domestic or regional actors could lead to the increase of unpredictability in terms of Kosovo’s future both regionally and internationally.

This estimation could also be strengthened by the future attitude of the Serbian community, but also of other minority communities in Kosovo, which were more concerned with the new CEC decision to formally prohibit-for the first time- the use of Serbian ID cards during the elections. Therefore, only citizens to have documents issued by the Kosovar authorities will have the right to vote at the 06.10.2019 elections.

Hence, the polls made so far are suggesting that there is no political party in Kosovo to have the necessary support from the electorate and they will not have enough votes to establish, on their own, the future government in Kosovo, thus the Kosovo political groups may get involved in endless discussions to create some coalitions to that end.

Uncertainties in the field

Currently, Kosovo’s Albanese parties are creating alliances, but, so far, they are all rejecting the possibility to cooperate with PDK of President H. Thaci and the former president of Pristina’s Parliament, Kadri Veseli.

Also, a positive result for the discussions between the Self Determinant Movement (LVV)/ leader Albin Kurti and the Kosovo Democratic League (LDK)/ leader Isa Mustafa, is quite uncertain, because both leaders are fighting to assume their prime-minister role.

The international community is interested in the possible changes after the 06.10.2019 elections. Thus, the Croatian platform “Jutarnji List”, which analyzed the political scene from both Belgrade and Pristina, is announcing a possible “political boiling”. Furthermore, the situation in Kosovo is quite tense also because the leader of the Self Determination Movement (LVV), the “controversial and disobedient” Albin Jurti is regarded as one of the favorites for the prime-minister position.

Given the regional context, it is quite clear now that the Kosovo elections should come with a prepared government for a new discussion round with Serbia, considering that EU and US are asking for the relations between Belgrade and Pristina to cool down and restart the negotiations. Otherwise, this situation could get worse and it could directly affect all Western Balkans states.

Hence, at the 06.10.2019 elections, before voting, the Kosovar voters will have to question themselves: which of the parties is more likely to improve the health and education systems which are currently down? Which of the parties are less corrupt? Which of them have personalities who managed to do something good so far? Who proved to be stable? Which of the parties has also people able to think and manage Kosovo’s future?

All of these questions must be regarded considering the existence of an increasing Kosovar economy, however one to bring no benefits to its citizens, of a judicial system and some police forces who have lost people’s confidence, a foreign policy which was unstable and ineffective for the past years and that is now questioning the normalization process of the relations with Serbia, the Kosovo’s status and, not least, Pristina’s leaders integration objective in the European and Euro-Atlantic structures. Moreover, it is noteworthy that all these challenges are decisively influencing the future of the entire Western Balkans region.


Translated by Andreea Soare

[1] The PANA coalition is a political coalition composed of four Albanese parties: the Kosovo Democratic Party (PDK)/leader Kadri Veseli, the Alliance for the future of Kosovo (AAK)/leader Ramush Haradinaj, the New Kosovo Alliance (AKR)/LEADER Behgjet Pacolli, the Social Democratic Initiative for Kosovo (NISMA)/leader Fatmir Limaj and six political parties belonging to Kosovo’s ethnical minorities.

[2] Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (born 23.03.1970) is a German politician, member of the European Parliament since 2019. She represented the Lower Saxony in Bundestag, from 2009 to 2013.