Can Thaci become Prime Minister again with the help of Serbian parties?

Posted in Europe , Democracy | 08-Dec-10 | Source: IFIMES

On December 12 this year the first (early) parliamentary elections after the declaration of independence on February 17, 2008 will be held in Kosovo.

The Assembly of Kosovo is made up of 120 members. 100 of these are elected directly, while 10 members represent the Serbian minority, 4 the Roma minority and 3 the Bosniak, Montenegrin, Croatian and Hungarian minorities. 2 places are reserved for the Turkish minority and 1 place for Goranci. Serbs have 10 places reserved in the Kosovo Assembly, however this number can be increased if they exceed the threshold of 5%. Around 1,6 million voters will have voting right at the upcoming elections.

Altogether 29 political actors will participate at the scheduled elections. Six parties and two initiatives representing the Serbian community will run for the elections: the Independent Social Democrats Associations (Savez nezavisnih socijaldemokrata - SND), Serbian Democratic Party of KM (Srpska Demokratska Stranka - SDSKiM), Serbian Party of Kosovo and Metohija (Srpska kosovsko-metohijska stranka - SKMS), Serbian National Party (Srpska narodna stranka - SNS), Independent Liberal Party (Samostalna liberalna stranka - SLS), Serbian Social-Democratic Party (Srpska socijaldemokratska stranka - SSDS), and two civilian initiatives - the Unique Serbian List (Jedinstvena srpska lista - JSL) and the Wing of the Nation (Krilo naroda).

The first elections for the Kosovo Assembly were held on November 17, 2001, when the Serbian coalition Return (Povratak) won 22 mandates. This was the best result won by the Serbian political subjects since the arrival of the international community in Kosovo. The "Povratak" coalition won 89.388 votes, that is 11,34% or 22 parliament seats. 10 mandates were reserved for Serbs and 12 mandates were given to "Povratak" according to the number of votes.

Until now the leading parties of the Albanian majority were the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo (LDK), Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), the Alliance for the future of Kosovo (AAK) and the Alliance for the new Kosovo (AKR).

Kosovo is yet again facing a new challenge, since the early parliamentary elections will be a test of endurance of Kosovo's democracy.

The upcoming elections are not specific only due to the fact that they are the first elections after the gaining of independence, but also due to the reason for their initiation and the new political actors in the otherwise very closed Kosovo's political scene.

The parliamentary elections in Kosovo should have taken place right after the Declaration of Independence. Despite the opposition's disagreement the elections didn't take place because the international community in Kosovo prevented them and thus, by supporting the government of the Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi, it is partially responsible for the catastrophic situation in Kosovo.

It is expected that the upcoming elections will change the political scene of Kosovo, which has been controlled by more or less the same politicians until now.

THE "RAINBOW" COALITIONS

The upcoming Kosovo elections will be specific because of numerous pre-election coalitions. From the moment it was announced that the elections will take place in December 2010 in stead of February 2011 almost all the parties (small and large ones) sought to rapidly form pre-election coalitions.

The largest coalition is the coalition of Behgjet Pacolli (the Alliance for New Kosovo - AKR), which has seven coalition partners altogether.

Something that used to be virtually impossible on the Kosovo political scene, has now become possible. Pacolli entered into coalition with the ex-Prime Minister and the President of Kosovo Social Democrats Agim Çeku. The son of Ibrahim Rugova, Uke Rugova, is in the coalition with Ramush Haradinaj, the ex-Prime Minister and the president of the oppositional Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK). Probably the least possible combination is that Kosovo ex-Prime Minister from AAK Bajram Kosumi joins the PDK list.

THE FALL OF FATMIR SEJDIU FRAMED BY HASHIM THAÇI

The decision of Kosovo Constitutional Court that Fatmir Sejdiu, the President of Kosovo, violated the Constitution of Kosovo, because he held two positions at the same time, namely the President of Kosovo and the President of the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo (LDK), which he had supposedly frozen, represents the beginning of the denouement. Fatmir Sejdiu decided to withdraw from the position of Kosovo President and to reactivate his position of LDK President after the decision of the Constitutional Court, which he had lost on November 7, 2010, during the Congress of LDK.

All of this was directed by Hashim Thaçi who started an initiative with the help of his representatives in the Kosovo Assembly to determine, after three years of performing the functions as the President of Kosovo, whether Sejdiu was violating the Constitution because he performed two functions at the same time. This little "discovery" had an ambition to weaken LDK and to create the appropriate environment for early elections.

Hashim Thaçi and his PDK assumed that this was the best time for elections, as LDK was weakened while the opposition leader Ramush Haradinaj was in the Detention Unit of the Hague Tribunal. With this they increased their chances of PDK winning the elections. The analysts are wondering whether this kind of behaviour is really going to benefit Thaçi and PDK. The answer will be known on December 12. However, analytics are also pointing to the fact that most political parties in Kosovo do not wish to form coalitions with Thaçi and PDK, except some Serbian parties that are openly announcing a coalition with Thaçi.

ISA MUSTAFA BRIEFLY AND POSITIVELY INFLUENCED LDK

The departure of Fatmir Sejdiu from the position of Kosovo President has weakened his influenced inside his LDK party, which resulted also in his defeat in the party Congress, when he convincingly lost to the mayor of Prishtina Isa Mustafa, who is a passionate opponent of Hashim Thaçi.

The election of Isa Mustafa for the president of LDK has increased the enthusiasm and positive energy not only in LDK, but also among the Kosovo public. The characteristic of Isa Mustafa is that he "measures twice" and "cuts once". However, the euphoria over Isa Mustafa lasted only a short period of time. The disappointment arose after the new LDK presidency was elected and after the presentation of the List for the Kosovo Assembly.

The analytics found that Isa Mustafa made two major strategic mistakes. Firstly, it was expected from him to make some significant changes in the party, but he made only cosmetic changes. He kept some persons in the LDK Presidency on the positions they had occupied since the foundation of the party, such as Sabri Hamiti, Eqrem Kryeziu and others with whom the people of Kosovo are already fed up and who have nothing new to offer. It is obvious that Isa Mustafa didn't have the courage to offer something new or a new face on the political scene to the citizens of Kosovo. The second strategic mistake of Isa Mustafa is that he didn't keep Uke Rugova in LDK. It is estimated that if Uke Rugova returned to LDK to the position of Vice-President, this would most probably be the winning tandem. After the departure of Sejdiu from LDK it can be said that everything is the same, except that there is no Uke Rugova and Fatmir Sejdiu.

UKE RUGOVA INSTEAD OF RAMUSH HARADINAJ

The success of AAK is that it attracted Uke Rugova, the son of the historic leader of Kosovo Albanians, Ibrahim Rugova and this fact will most probably result in the positive outcome for AAK in the upcoming elections.

The analysts consider that the decision of AAK was a strategic one, bearing in mind that Ramush Haradinaj is in the Hague, despite the fact that he will be the list carrier, and Uke Rugova on the second place on the list. Nonetheless, the campaign will burden Uke Rugova and other associates of Ramush Haradinaj. Non-participation of Haradinaj in this campaign is a huge handicap for AAK, but this empty space will be filled by Uke Rugova. The upcoming elections represent a great chance for AAK.

NEW FACES ON THE POLITICAL SCENE

In the current constellation of political relations in Kosovo, the appearance of two new political parties is instilling optimism. These two parties were formed by young people who haven't been present in politics before. The first party is called the "New Spirit" (Fryma e Re - FER), which was established by two civilian society activists, Ilir Deda and Shpend Ahmeti. They were both educated at American and British universities. The second party is called Self-Determination (Vetvendosje), led by Albin Kurti, a radical leader.

The energy and enthusiasm, showcased by the new party named FER can in many ways positively affect the citizens of Kosovo and also those who don't live there. Their liberal and democratic orientation has attracted many young people, who form the majority of the population in Kosovo and who see a new hope in FER in order to change the drab political, economic and social environment, which has been present in Kosovo for years now. The founders of FER have shown that the civil society also has the capacity to offer a different version of the future to the citizens of Kosovo. The elections will show how strongly the citizens of Kosovo will support the Vetvendosje and FER. Nevertheless, the new government will surely have a hard time forming itself without these two parties.

Changes are expected in the regions that have been traditionally more supportive of PDK (Drenica) and AAK (Djukagin region - Metohija).

The election campaign will be important in large urban areas which will have an important effect on the decomposition of the authorities. The turnout will have an important influence on the final results of the elections as ell as on the consolidation of Kosovo's democracy both in the internal and international sphere.

SERBS WILL BOYCOTT THE ELECTIONS

It is crucial that the representatives of the minority communities, most importantly Serbs and displaced persons, partake in the elections. Despite the fact that the official Belgrade does not recommend the Serbs to participate in the elections, because according to Belgrade the conditions for that haven't been fulfilled, an important number of Serbs will participate in the upcoming elections. They also announced that after the elections they will form coalition with Hashim Thaçi and PDK and thus enable Thaçi to become the Prime Minister of Kosovo again.

The monitoring of the elections will be very demanding, taking into account that every organization that wants to participate in monitoring has to provide substantial financial assets. Because of the small number of foreign monitors, they won't be able to monitor every aspect of the elections and to be present at all places throughout the whole voting day. It is expected that there will be 4800 domestic observers, mostly from the non-governmental organization called "Democracy at work"; 2400 of these observers will be at the polls, while the other half will be monitoring the vote counting.

The fairness of the campaign greatly depends on the media. The analysts consider that there is a political party directly or indirectly behind every media house in Kosovo. There are 104 broadcasters, with 21 television houses and the rest being radio stations, registered in Kosovo today. In addition to the RTV Kosovo public television there are two other private television houses at the national level: Televizija 21 and TV Kohavision.

The analysts' opinion is that monitoring over the media in Kosovo should be established during the pre-election campaign with sanctioning the media that are biased in their reporting about the campaign, favouring some political subjects over others.

The IFIMES international institute expects the upcoming elections to offer an answer whether there is an Albanian politician who will be able to integrate about 20% of Kosovo territory, which is currently not controlled by the Prishtina government but by the government in Belgrade, or whether this territory will be lost for Kosovo once and for all.

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