Kosovo Braces for Voters’ Verdict in Sunday’s Snap Election
Around 1.8 million voters have the right to cast ballots this Sunday to elect a new parliament for Kosovo for the sixth time in less than 14 years.
More than 1,000 MP candidates will be keeping their fingers crossed on Sunday, awaiting the voters’ verdict in Kosovo’s sixth parliamentary elections in under 14 years.
Some 28 political entities are on the ballot papers seeking votes in yet another early election. Since 2007, not one cabinet in Kosovo has succeeded in completing its full four-year term.
Last week, the Central Election Commission, CEC, approved the final list of voters, with 1,794,862 names on it – over 143,000 voters less than in the previous 2019 elections.
The CEC said the number of voters had declined because many voters who do not have valid Kosovo documents had been removed from the register. In the past, those who possessed IDs issued by UN Administration Mission, UNMIK, were included on the list.
“Ballots are now ready. On Saturday they will be distributed to Municipal Electoral Commissions and on Sunday morning they will be sent to 888 polling centres all over Kosovo,” Valmir Elezi, spokesperson for the CEC, told BIRN on Friday.
Snap elections were triggered in December 2020, when the Constitutional Court ruled that the coalition government led by Avdullah Hoti’s Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, was illegitimate because it had been voted into office with the help of an invalid vote cast by an MP with a criminal conviction in the last three years.
Hoti had become prime minister after the government led by Albin Kurti, which had come to power following previous snap elections in October 2019, was ousted after only 51 days in the office.
The elections are being held for a new parliament that will then elect a new government. However the race for the post of Prime Minister has also been in the spotlight in the ten-day campaign.
Kurti, of the Vetevendosje Movement, Hoti, of the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, and Enver Hoxhaj, of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, are the three candidates running for the job.
For Kurti, Sunday’s elections are the third time he is running for Prime Minister – although he is barred from seeking an MP’s seat following a Constitutional Court verdict, which ruled that no one sentenced for a crime in the last three years may obtain a seat in parliament.
A Pristina court gave Kurti a suspended prison sentence in January 2018 for setting off tear gas in parliament in protest at a border demarcation with neighbouring Montenegro and over plans to establish an autonomous association of Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo.
Kurti first ran for the PM’s post in 2017 – but failed. Success followed the 2019 elections after his party came in first place. However, his short-lived government collapsed in March 2020, after only 51 days. This followed the success of a no-confidence motion tabled by his junior coalition partners in the LDK in the midst of the COVID pandemic.
Hoti is running for the post of Prime Minister for the second time. The first time was in 2017, when his LDK party finished in third place in elections behind a coalition of the PDK, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, and NISMA and Vetevendosje.
The 44-year-old Economics professor at Pristina University was finally elected Prime Minister in June 2020 following the collapse of Kurti’s cabinet. But his term lasted little more than six months, after the Constitutional Court ruling in December 2020.
Considered a closest associate of LDK leader Isa Mustafa, Hoti served as Deputy Prime Minister in Kurti’s brief coalition government, having previously served as Minister of Finance from 2015 to 2017. He was Deputy Mayor of Pristina from 2010 to 2013.
The third candidate is the PDK’s Enver Hoxhaj, who was provisionally installed at the helm of the PDK only in November 2020.
The 51-year-old Political Sciences professor at Pristina University took control of the party after the Hague-based Specialist Court, set up to try war crimes committed in the Kosovo war, indicted his leader, Kadri Veseli.