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Kosovo Assembly Election - 11 June 2017

Kosovo held extra-ordinary elections on 11 June 2017 to fill the 120 seats in the Assembly of Kosovo. While the next parliamentary election was scheduled for mid-2018, the Assembly adopted a no-confidence vote in the government of Prime Minister Isa Mustafa on May 10, 2017, triggering an early election. Snap elections were mandated to take place within 30 to 45 days of the Assemblys dissolution. After consultations with the various political parties, President Hashim Thai announced that the elections would take place on June 11.

The special court established under EU pressure to adjudicate war crimes by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was poised to issue indictments, which were widely expected to target former guerrilla leaders who had become prominent politicians. This court is by its very nature exposed to the influence of western powers. It was assumed that suspects were less likely to be indicted if they were part of the governing majority. The risk of being indicted was one important factor why the leaders and political parties with origins in the KLA called the snap elections and set their well-known rivalries to form a joint electoral list, which from the start was the clear favorite.

The nationalist Self-Determination Movement was neck-and-neck with the coalition led by former Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, which had around 26 percent each after the counting of about 70 percent of the votes, according to Democracy in Action, a monitoring group. No group can govern alone and coalitions will be likely.

A coalition led by former PM Ramush Haradinaj won the election with around 35% of the vote, while the left-wing opposition party Vetevendosje and the coalition associated with outgoing Prime Minister Isa Mustafa each held around 25%. The backdrop to the election was an ongoing adjudication over war crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Many politicians with a background in the KLA were keen to secure a government position to protect themselves from charges.

The new Cabinet faced a tough job in resolving several thorny issues, including the border demarcation deal with Montenegro. The approval of another agreement with Serbia giving more rights to the ethnic Serb minority, and the continuation of fraught talks with Belgrade, which denies Kosovo's existence as a state, were also key concerns.

Ethnic Serbs and other minorities have 20 out of 120 seats in the parliament. Self-Determination Movement officials celebrated the results, which saw the party double its share of the vote. The party has been a disruptive force in the previous parliament and is the biggest opposition party to shun pre-election coalitions. The party's members and supporters released tear gas inside parliament and threw firebombs outside it to protest the contentious deals with Montenegro and Serbia.

International and independent observers evaluated the vote as generally free and fair. The campaign was marked, however, by a pattern of intimidation within Kosovo-Serb communities, as some Kosovo Serbs brought pressure to bear on fellow Kosovo Serbs aligned with parties other than pro-Serbian Srpska List (SL). Candidates not affiliated with SL were pressured to withdraw from the race. Isolated incidents of violence occurred, including a gunfire attack on the office of the Party of Kosovo Serbs (PKS) in Leposavic/Leposaviq on May 22 and a violent clash between supporters of PKS and SL resulting in the temporary detention of the PKS leader on June 4. Delay in forming a governing coalition brought government institutions to a halt for nine weeks following the parliamentary elections, negatively impacting the countrys economy and preventing progress on key issues in international and domestic affairs. For the extraordinary "snap" elections held on 11 June 2017, several parties joined forces to create the PDK-AAK-Nisma (PAN) Coalition, which won about 35 percent of the vote, narrowly beating out Vetevendosje, which ran as a single party outside of any coalition, and the incumbent LDK Coalition, led by former Prime Minister Isa Mustafa. Creation of the new government was delayed due to a lack of consensus or clear majority; after over two months of negotiations and six failed constitutive sessions, the government was only formed in early September 2017.

President of Kosovo Hashim Thai scheduled the date 22 October 2017 for the holding of the local elections, President's Office stated. Thai instructed the Central Election Commission to undertake all the necessary actions for the organization and holding of the local elections, in accordance with his decision and the legislation in force. On October 22, Kosovo held municipal elections, which observers regarded as generally free and fair despite isolated irregularities. The precampaign period was marked by several incidents of intimidation within Kosovo-Serb communities. Ahead of local elections, Skenderaj/Srbica assembly candidate Beqir Veliu was physically assaulted in an allegedly politically motivated attack.

Haradinaj, the leader of Alliance for the Future of Kosovo party, came to power in 2017 after snap parliamentary elections. His government coalition, made up of so-called "war wing" parties, was unstable from the get-go. Moreover, it faced tremendous challenges: a rocky relationship with Serbia, domestic corruption, high unemployment and the special tribunal. A premature collapse of the coalition was very much on the cards.





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