Deadlocked parliament brings early elections in Kosovo

20/05/2014

Opinions are divided whether the early elections will result in a new parliament able to address pressing issues.

By Safet Kabashaj for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 20/05/15

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Kosovo is preparing for early parliamentary elections on June 8th. [Safet Kabashaj/SETimes]

Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga scheduled early parliamentary elections for June 8th in hopes of installing a parliament that can address key issues facing the country.

The decision came after parliament dissolved itself with 90 of the 120 MPs voting in favour of dissolution and only three against.

It was the only solution for the deadlocked parliament, said Driton Selmanaj of the Kosovo Democratic Institute, a think tank in Pristina.

"The assembly was not in a position to take decisions for many months as a consequence of the boycott by some MPs and parliamentary groups," Selmanaj told SETimes.

Two main issues parliament was not able to resolve include the transformation of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) into an army, and whether to extend the reserved number of parliamentary seats for ethnic minorities for two additional mandates.

"The majority had not enough votes to govern and the opposition had not enough votes to dismiss the government," added Teuta Sahatqija, an MP from the opposition Democratic League of Kosovo party (LDK), told SETimes.

Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuqi said the decision comes at a pivotal time and is expected to enable the parliament and the country to move forward.

"It is about a political consensus to move forward to elections at this time and in this way," Kuqi told SETimes.

But critics said the elections were called without reforming the existing controversial election law, and the decision may undermine democracy for the sake of political expediency.

"There is no agreement between political parties for a new election, but a deal between the two biggest ruling and opposition political parties, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and the LDK," Myzejene Selmani, leader of parliamentary group of the junior ruling coalition partner, the New Kosovo Alliance (AKR), told SETimes.

Other critics said the new parliament will no longer have 10 reserved seats for Serbs out of the 20 constitutionally guaranteed seats for ethnic minorities.

"It is certain that the Albanian majority does not want reserved seats for minorities in the future," said Rada Trajkovic, a Serbian MP in the Kosovo parliament.

The minorities unsuccessfully tried to link the issue with their support for transforming the KSF.

All political entities need to be reconfirmed or reconfigured by the people, said Mazllum Baraliu, a professor at Pristina University and former head of the country's Central Election Commission. "[Obtaining] verification from people is a must and is the best way for political parties to see where they stand in terms of support from the people," Baraliu told SETimes.

Others said cancelling the reserved seats is a good chance for minorities, especially the Serbs, to become part of the election process, including in the north of Kosovo.

"Posing such conditions for reserved seats by the Serb community toward the KSF transformation shows the reserved seats were not perceived as integration, but instead as a means to block the institutions," Sahatqija said.

Selmanaj said the government may have miscalculated on trying to find a combined solution for the two key issues -- the KSF transformation and reserved minority seats -- by not following the international community plan.

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"The transformation of the KSF should have been done last year as foreseen by the Ahtisaari package," Selmanaj said.

But Kuqi said the KSF issue must be addressed by the next parliament.

"After the elections, we will continue efforts for the KSF's transformation," he said.

How can Kosovo overcome its parliamentary gridlock? Share your opinion in the comments space below.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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