Change of Power in Kosovo |

Change of Power in Kosovo

The opposition parties Vetevendosje and LDK will probably rule in the future.
Analysis11.10.2019Michael Roick, Thomas Roser
Kosovo voted
Kosovo voted picture alliance / AP Photo

Kosovo’s early parliamentary elections have brought the expected change of power, but as well as some unexpected outcomes: the liberal party New Alliance for Kosovo (AKR) by Foreign Minister, Behgjet Pacolli, who co-governed until now, probably has just missed the entry into parliament. 

In the fifth round of elections Kosovo’s eternal rebel succeeded - and now reaches for power: After the narrow victory of the left-wing nationalist party, Vetevendosje (LVV), (“self-determination”), which emerged from the snap parliamentary elections on October 6th as the strongest force, according to the official preliminary results of 25,6 per cent, the former student leader, Albin Kurti, faces now the take-over of the government businesses. 

The elections have brought the predicted change of power, but as well as some unexpected outcomes. The LDK (Democratic Liga Kosovo) with front-runner, Vjosa Osmani, led the polls for some time but was overtaken in the final by the LVV, which has already been the strongest force in the elections of 2017 – and became with 24,9 per cent the second strongest force. Furthermore, the electoral alliance of the former partners in government AKR and NISMA (Social-democratic Initiative) probably just missed with 4,88 per cent the jump into parliament unexpectedly.

Expected coalition government

Kurti, the designated Prime Minister, already named the oppositional LDK as a preferred partner for his future coalition: “If the opposition forms the government, the change will be crowned.” The LDK still keeps a low profile because of the outstanding official result but has signalised willingness for coalition talks. The centre-right LDK and the LVV, which is called radical in the West, cooperated already well in the opposition. However, the Vetevendosje attacked the LDK, during the coalition with the former ruling, PDK (Democratic Party of Kosovo) (2014-2017). Whether both parties succeed with their campaign promise of a "Government of change", despite their programmatic differences, is unclear. Jeta Krasniqi, an analyst at the Kosovo Democratic Institute (KDI) in Pristina, comments: "Both sides need to be open for this and also want the compromise." 

Everything points in fact to an alliance between the former opposition parties because other governmental parties do not want to impose. PDK the previous party of power, which was close to the former president, Hashim Thaci, announced the transition into the opposition. They would not have got an offer for a coalition from the winner of the election LVV and LDK either way. The AAK (11,53 per cent) from the outgoing Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj, is too weak to be a junior coalition partner. Furthermore, the AKR Party of the Foreign Minister, Behgjet Pacolli, will not be parliamentary represented anymore.

The voters would have "wanted the other government and voted for the change", comments analyst Krasniqi about the lesson for the former governmental party.  The failed government chose "populist measures" with the transformation of the security services into a Kosovo-army and the collection of 100-per cent custom duties of Serbian exports:   "However it seems as if the citizen put their hope into a government, which fights corruption and nepotism - and provides better living conditions."

Kosovo's new white hope?

Albin Kurti has already made a name for himself in the nineties as an eloquent critic of the power.  In 1997 the former electrical engineering student joined the underground army- UCK. In 1997 and 1998 he organised the non-violent student protests against the Serbian occupation of Kosovo. He got arrested after the outbreak of the Kosovo war in April 1999. Almost a year later the country court in Nis convicted him for 15 years in prison, because of his membership in a terror union. At the end of 2001, Kurti got discharged from Serbian imprisonment under the back then-new Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic. Whereas the former UCK-commandant climbed the social ladder as a politician after the war, Kurti could not stop thinking about Kosovo’s corrupt establishment. The self-proclaimed fighter disputed without compromise against corruption, for a union with Albania, against the EU-justice mission Eulex and any concession on Serbia. He did not stop with radical resources: He ignited tear gas bombs in parliament just a few years ago to avoid an unpopular border agreement with Montenegro. 

In Kosovo Kurti is considered as a "clean" politician, but the West, regards him with suspicion, because of his obvious sympathy for a great Albania. The LVV-head kept noticeably quiet about foreign questions and did not challenge his potential partner LDK during the campaign. Kosovo's winner of the election not only speaks more moderate and pragmatic towards the West. He also announced the willingness for a conversation with Serbia in the election night, as well as a harder pace: He will not keep the dialogue "for the damage of Kosovo" anymore. Whatever this means in detail.

Analyst Krasniqi is confident that a new LVVD-LDK-government under leader Kurtis would surely seek a "correct relationship with the West". The potential partners made their engagement for a dialogue with Serbia during campaigning clear, even if content and form would change. From now on the government will play a leading role in the negotiations with Belgrade instead of President, Thaci.

Kurti has already announced that he intends to focus more on war relevant issues, but also on topics that do not reach agreements. He meant the questions of missing persons or the demanded war reparations of Pristina in the deadlocked conversations with Serbia. Nevertheless, in the end, the future government should be interested in the achievement of the EU accelerated neighbourhood agreement, because the laborious relationship with Serbia is still the biggest obstacle for Kosovo.

Serbia still blocks the former province in the international arena with the help of Moscow. The other way around Kosovo displeased the Western protection forces with the declaration of one-hundred per cent protection tariffs of Serbian exports last November. During the electoral campaign, the party only spoke about problems in domestic policy, noted the analyst and economist, Berat Thaqi, of the GPA-Institute in Pristina: "But above all, the new government needs to pay the most attention to the dialogue. If this is done, the next government can approach the improvement of living conditions."

Disappointment by the liberals 

The leading representatives of the liberal AKR (New Alliance Kosovo) are disappointed about the results of the election. They entered the electoral coalition with the only in 2014 founded "social democratic alternative" (NISMA) – and after present vote counts - just missed the five-per cent threshold. Their President, Behgejet Pacolli, the present Foreign Minister and Vice Prime Minister, congratulated the front-runners of the opposition parties for their victory on the evening of the elections and wished them a lucky hand. Pacolli believes that the dissatisfaction of the citizens developed, because of hopelessness, economic stagnation and international isolation. All this favoured the change of power of the oppositional parties: "The volition for change has won." Now it is important to show that the pro-Atlantic and European orientation is irreversible. Against the background of the big challenge Valdrin Luka (AKR), Minister of Economic Development, assumed, that there will be a quick formation of a government.