European Western Balkans

Elections in Kosovo – what to expect from the winner?

Photo: AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu via Tanjug

PRISTINA – On May 10, the notion of no-confidence was launched in Kosovo parliament and the Government lost the majority. The new parliamentary elections are scheduled for June 11.

In the meantime, new and perhaps surprising coalitions have emerged, provoking some to describe the elections as a revival of war and peace camps.

Namely, the most awkward coalition but at the same time the most likely winner is a grand coalition of Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, led by Kadri Veseli, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, led by Ramush Haradinaj (a candidate for the post of PM) and Fatmir Limaj’s initiative for Kosovo, NYSMA. Perhaps the only thing that brings them together is the fact that all of them are former KLA leaders.

On the other hand, Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, is in coalition with the New Kosovo Alliance, AKR, of Behgjet Pacolli and with newly established party Alternative. Their candidate for the prime minister’s post is Avdullah Hoti, not so popular departing Minister of Finance.

Vetevendosje (VV) is the only party that enters the campaign alone with Albin Kurti, 42-year old activist, as the PM candidate.

Having in mind that politics is a game where everything is possible, it is important to explore the position of main political parties/coalitions on foreign policy issues and how they would impact the future Kosovo politics.

While all relevant political parties, including Vetevendosje, are supporting the membership in NATO, the relation with the EU is more ambiguous. Namely not all parties are in favour of EU-facilitated dialogue with Belgrade, while some are also opposing the fulfilment of requirements needed for visa liberalisation, e.g. ratification of border demarcation agreement signed with Montenegro. Needless to say, the rejection of the dialogue would lead to the stalemate of EU integration process in which Kosovo is already a laggard in the region.

One of the central characteristics of Vetevendosje since its establishment is its hostility to the international actors that have had executive power over Kosovo. Thus, VV is very critical about the role of EULEX and it is also against EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. Their main stance is that the dialogue is giving too much power to Belgrade, instead of which they promote a dialogue between local Serbs population and Kosovo institutions. Moreover, VV is against border demarcation agreement whose ratification they prevented last year by using a tear gas in the Parliament. Yet, bearing in mind that most of Kosovo citizens supports EU integration and want to travel freely avoiding the long queues in front of the Western embassies, it is hard to imagine that any party, including VV, once in power would be ready to jeopardize entire process by rejecting the required conditions.

On the other hand, it is not clear what is the stance of PDK-AAK-NYSMA coalition on border demarcation agreement with Montenegro. It was PDK who signed the agreement, while the AAK based its campaign on opposing it. Even Urlike Lunacek, The EU Special Rapporteur for Kosovo, recently warned that “(LDK and PDK) should clearly tell their coalition partners that this condition should be fulfilled and that the agreement should ratify”. On the other hand, Haradinaj recently went out with the proposal that the USA should be included in the dialogue with Serbia, while the President Thaçi (former PDK leader) criticised the Union for the lack of vision. Yet, the biggest threat for the grand coalition comes actually from The Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers (Special Court) whose mandate is to investigate and prosecute war and post-war crimes committed by KLA. All three leaders and some members of their parties are potential inductees. Thus, the destiny and policies of the coalition would most likely be determined by the work of this Court.

And finally, the coalition of LDK-AKR-Alternative is promoting itself as a pro-European party that “gets things done”. In other words, they are in favour of the dialogue with Belgrade at the same time defending the border demarcation agreement with Montenegro. This coalition is far less controversial and described as more “natural” than the coalition of PDK and AAK.

Yet, new surprising post-election coalitions are also possible. So, after Sunday it will be known whether Kosovo will continue with business as usual or new decision-makers will emerge.

K. T.

This article has been produced with the support of the Balkan Trust for Democracy. The content of this article and the opinions expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the portal European Western Balkans and in no way reflect the views and opinions of the Balkan Trust for Democracy nor the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

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