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Kosovo Assembly Election - 06 October 2019

Prime Minister Ramush Haradinajj, a former commander of ethnic Albanian rebels who battled Serbia in the late 1990s, resigned on 19 July 2019 ahead of his questioning by a Hague-based court investigating alleged war crimes by fighters from the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) two decades ago. He since acted in a caretaker role. It was the second time Haradinaj, a former commander in the KLA, has stepped down as a result of accusations from The Hague. Haradinaj's first resignation came in 2005, after he was indicted by the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with his wartime role as a top commander in the KLA. He was acquitted in 2005 due to lack of evidence, though rumors that witnesses had been intimated and even murdered persisted. Even so, when Haradinaj returned to Kosovo, he was hailed as a national hero. He was twice acquitted of war-related charges, in 2008 and again in 2012.

Lawmakers in Kosovo voted 22 August 2019 to disband parliament, clearing the way for President Hashim Thaci to call early general elections following the resignation of Haradinaj. After 89 lawmakers in the 120-member parliament voted in favor of the motion at an extraordinary session on August 22, Haradinaj hailed Kosovo's "political maturity" and "stable democracy." President Hashim Thaci, who was required to call the snap polls within 45 days, said he would announce the election date "soon" so that the country quickly has "a functional and accountable government that copes with the challenges of the state and the society."

The law provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot based on universal and equal suffrage. The Serbian government continued to operate some illegal parallel government structures in Serb majority municipalities and majority Serb and majority Gorani areas in the southern part of the country.

In most of the country, political parties operate freely, and there were no significant barriers to registration. In the four northern Serb majority municipalities, opposition representatives reported threats of violence by the Serbia-affiliated Srpska List party during 2017 elections. Party affiliation sometimes played a role in access to government services and social and employment opportunities. In March, members of the Vetevendosje party released tear gas during debate at the Assembly building in an attempt to block the ratification of a border demarcation agreement with Montenegro. The members were arrested and subsequently released. No indictments had been issued by the end of the year 2018.

This term at the Assembly has been criticized for its lack of functionality over the last two years, while there were more than 1,600 absences from sessions at the chamber. Haradinajs administration has been characterized by a lack of quorum in decision-making processes at the Assembly, which has led to a considerable number of draft laws, agreements and reports either not being passed or not voted on in the first place. This Assembly had been characterized by an unusually large number of extraordinary sessions, the most to ever have been called within one governmental administration. The extraordinary sessions were almost all initiated by the opposition. This approach was necessary, owing to the fact that in the absence of a parliamentary majority and the absence of PANs legitimacy, the speaker of the assembly was blocking the work of the Assembly.

Over the past decade, no Assembly composition has achieved to fulfill its full four-year mandate, demonstrating the levels of political instability in the country. In November 2010, June 2014 and June 2017, new elections were held following a vote of no confidence submitted to the Kosovo Assembly.

On 21 August 2019, Valdete Daka, the head of the Central Election Commission, CEC, met with President Thaci to discuss the CECs preparation for snap elections. According to Koha Ditore, October 6 has been decided as the date when citizens will cast their votes. New elections will be held no later than 45 days, with October 6 the last available Sunday.

Kosovo's president set snap parliamentary elections for October 6 following the resignation of Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj in July. An August 26 statement from President Hashim Thaci's office says that the Central Election Commission had been tasked with taking "all necessary measures" to organize and hold the vote.

In response to an invitation by President Hashim Thai, the European Union has deployed an EU Election Observation Mission to Kosovo to observe the early parliamentary elections. The European Union has a long history of accompanying electoral processes in Kosovo and has deployed EOMs on four previous occasions, the last two in 2017, which reflects the EU's long-term commitment and partnership with Kosovo. Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, has appointed Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, Member of the European Parliament as Chief Observer.

High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini stated: "Kosovo remains a political priority for the European Union and deploying an EOM for the upcoming early parliamentary elections confirms our continuing engagement and commitment to supporting Kosovo's democratic processes. I am confident that the deployment of an EU EOM under the leadership of Chief Observer Viola von Cramon-Taubadel will contribute to an inclusive, credible and transparent election. All stakeholders and communities should be able to engage in this process and have their say in Kosovo's future. These elections come at an important juncture for Kosovo where it needs to move decisively to make progress on its European path, on reforms and on the normalisation of relations with Serbia.

Chief Observer Viola von Cramon-Taubadel declared: "I believe it is important for the EU to continue accompanying elections in Kosovo, which started in 2009. I am hopeful that our observation will provide an important contribution to these elections and, through its follow-up, to efforts to strengthen Kosovos electoral processes in the future. It is a great honour for me to lead this EOM and I have accepted this task with a great sense of responsibility."

The left-wing Vetevendosje, or Self Determination Movement party, won the snap elections, with 25 percent of the vote. The ruling PDK dropped to a 21 percent vote share, while the centre-right Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) was one point behind Vetevendosje at 24 percent. Kurti, who planned to form his government with the conservative LDK party in order to push the ruling PDK into opposition, had pledged economic reforms and improving the law and order situation in the nascent Western Balkans democracy.

It was the fourth election in Europe's youngest nation since it declared independence from Serbia in 2008. While Kosovo's population is just 1.7 million, about a million diaspora Kosovo Albanians formed a large chunk of the country's nearly 2 million registered voters. The Kosovo Albanians were firm supporters of the leftist-nationalist party. Vetevendosje's prime ministerial candidate, 44-year-old Albin Kurti, founded the party first as a political movement in 2005, which in 2010 transitioned to electoral politics. The most vocal opponent of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), which had ruled over Kosovo by forming various coalitions since 2007, Vetevendosje's win was considered a significant development symbolising a break from the past. But the Vetevendosje movement continued to call for unification with Albania.

Kosovo's leftist-nationalist Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) party has won 26.1 percent of the vote in the general elections, capturing 32 seats in the 120-seat legislature, according to the final results. It was followed by the center-right Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), which won 24.4 percent of the vote and 29 seats, the Central Election Commission said on November 7. Vetevendosje, whose leader Albin Kurti is poised to become Kosovo's next prime minister, started coalition talks with LDK days after the October 6 polls.

With a total of 61 seats, the two parties won a narrow majority in parliament. But according to Kosovo's constitution, a coalition government needs to include a representative of an ethnic minority. The former ruling party, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), which has dominated politics for more than a decade, placed third with 25 seats, followed by the coalition of outgoing Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj's Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, which now has 14 seats. Srpska Lista (Serbian List), the main party representing the country's ethnic Serbs, gathered 6.7 percent of the votes and won all 10 parliament seats that are reserved for Serbs, Kosovo's largest minority group.

Turnout was put at 44.7 percent.

Formerly dubbed the country's Che Guevara, former leftist Albin Kurti's coalition will host six groups representing Bosniaks, Serbs, Turks and other ethnic minorities. Kosovo's parliament approved former leftist rebel leader Albin Kurti as prime minister on 03 February 2020, following four months of haggling over official posts. He and his cabinet were installed just a day before the deadline, narrowly avoiding a political crisis. Kosovo's two major parties had agreed on a long-awaited deal on Sunday to form a new coalition government nearly four months after the country held snap elections when Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned. Kurti's coalition is comprised of the leftist Vetevendosje (Self Determination "VV") party and the center-right Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), the two leading parties in the country's parliament. Albin Kurti, 44, of the VV party announced he would become prime minister under the agreement and collaborate with the LDK party as well as other groups. Together, the coalition parties hold 77 of the parliament's 120 seats.

Kurti, now a self-described Social Democrat, once led violent street riots and was dubbed Kosovo's "Che Guevara." He first gained notoriety by organizing demonstrations in the 1990s against Serbia's repression of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority. What followed was a two-year stint in a Serbian prison.

The LDK initially partnered with Kurti after coming in second place behind Vetevendosje in elections in October 2019, but the union fell apart after the LDK held a no-confidence motion against Kurti in March 2020. Kurti demanded new elections, but the Constitutional Court ruled that a new government could be formed without a vote. Vetevendosje, the party of Hotis predecessor, former Prime Minister Albin Kurti, has accused Washington and Kosovar President Hashim Thaci of working in tandem to remove him from power in order to push through a deal with Serbia. Both Washington and Thaci deny the accusations.

Lawmakers in Kosovo approved a new government led by Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti by a razor-thin majority on 03 June 2020, ending months of political turmoil. The 44-year-old economics professor and former finance minister, secured 61 votes in the 120-seat parliament. A total of 24 lawmakers voted against, with one abstention. The leftist-nationalist Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) party did not participate in the vote. As the vote took place, a small number of Vetevendosje supporters protested outside the parliament building, calling for early elections.

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Page last modified: 05-06-2020 22:32:36 ZULU