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Sunday elections marked two important steps for democratic consolidation of Kosovo. Firstly, the state institutions as well as the whole society was mobilised to guarantee free and fair election. Unlike the 2010 parliamentary elections, when we witnessed an industrial scale fraud, the June 8 elections met the highest international standards, making it one of the best election organised in the region. From the Central Election Commission, police, state prosecutors, to political parties, media and civil society observers, the whole society was mobilised to make sure every incident would be reported and analysed. Even verbal tensions between voters were televised. Secondly, they were the first election with a solid participation of Kosovo Serbs living in the north of the country, who traditionally boycotted Kosovo institutions. Thus, Sunday elections mark an important turn when it comes to representation of the Serbs in the institutions, boosting in this way the legitimacy of the parliament.
Early result show that the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci won the elections with more than 30% of the votes. The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) received 26% while Vetevendosje (Self-determination) movement, which was considered a more radical party until this election, ended up third with 13.5%. Mr Thaci will most likely receive his third mandate as a prime minister, after having promised increase of public wages and creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Thaci’s victory comes at the time when the dissatisfaction of the people with the government has reached its ceiling and mainly owing to a weak and uncoordinated opposition. Both LDK and Vetevendosje ran a campaign focusing their criticism towards each, which left Mr Thaci more room to manoeuvre. Even the smaller Alliance for Future of Kosovo of former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, which resulted with 9.5% of the vote, criticised both the government and the opposition during their campaign. Mr Thaci reached a pre-election coalition with four micro-parties, including the pro-Islamic Justice Party and the pro-Catholic Christian Democrats, managing in this way to cover up for the damaged reputation as well as the split of two important figures, Fatmir Limaj and Jakup Krasniqi, from his party. Limaj, former minister and Krasniqi former Speaker of the Parliament, established a new political initiative (Nisma) which made it to the parliament, having passed the 5% threshold. This threshold was not passed by the New Kosova Alliance of former deputy prime minister Behgjet Pacolli.
The Kosovo political system makes it virtually impossible for a party to form a government on its own due to 20 reserved seats for representatives of ethnic minorities. As the new government will need at least 61 votes from the 120-seat parliament, a very likely coalition formula will be between PDK, AAK and Nisma, including the representatives of the minorities, which are always part of the government.
This blog was originally published in LSE’s Research in South East Europe Blog.