IBNA Special Report/ A full analysis of the current political situation in Kosovo. Everything on the November 3 local government elections in Kosovo. Which political forces dropped and which were the ones that grew the most? Why did radicals strengthen like it happened in Greece and Italy? What are the hopes of the citizens for their day to day life? What is the positioning of the international community and how was the meeting between Pristina and Belgrade in Brussels was prepared 2 days after the elections?
Pristina, November 4, 2013
The support for the party of prime minister Thaci (PDK-Democratic Party of Kosovo) has not dropped in the local government elections taken place yesterday on November 3 in Kosovo and according to the prime minister, his party was the winning political force. The opposition represented by LDK-Democratic League of Kosovo of the late president Ibrahim Rugova, has strengthened its position and claims that it’s the winning political party of these elections. AAK-Alliance for the Future of Kosovo of the former prime minister who was tried in Hague for war crimes and then acquitted, had good results, which for Mr. Ramush Haradinaj are surprising. On the other hand, the radicals of Self Determination, led by Albin Kurti, have achieved high results.
Thus, what happened in Greece with Golden Dawn or in Italy with “Cinque Stelle”, where these new political forces obtained surprising results in the elections, seems to happen in Kosovo too, because Self Determination has seen a significant growth, by managing to become a factor of runoff in important cities of Kosovo, including Pristina.
The majority of large communes in Kosovo have seen a runoff, therefore a second round of elections will take place in them. According to the data published by the Central Election Commission, race will continue in communes such as Pristina, Djakovitza, Prizren, Mitrovica, Pec, Gjilan, Malisheva, Suhareka, Rahovec and other communes. In Pristina, the runoff is expected to take place between the candidate of LDK, Isa Mustafa and representative of Self Determination, Shpend Ahmeti. A novelty in these elections is the Serb List, a subject sponsored by Belgrade and which has caused a runoff in the communes of Serb majority.
The runoff race for the heads of the communes is expected to take place on December 1.
The elections in figures
The Central Election Commission said that 814.780 people out of 1,779 357 registered voters participated in the elections, or 45.79%. This way, there’s an increase of 100 thousand voters as opposed to the last elections. 8383 voters, who voted abroad, were added to the lists.
224 candidates ran in 38 communes and 7704 candidates ran for communal councils.
798 poll centers or 52 more than last elections were opened throughout the country.
The prime minister talks of a victory in 15 communes
The head of PDK, Hashim Thaci said on Monday that PDK has been confirmed as the no. 1 party in Kosovo. Mr. Thaci said that the party that he leads has won in 15 communes, without a runoff. Thaci said that even as a party, PDK has seen a growth in the number of votes received. “Being the biggest party in the country, PDK has received 230 thousand votes on a national scale”. The prime minister said that he was convinced about the victory in the majority of communes in the second round, thus being confirmed as the first party in the country.
The prime minister considered the fact that for the first time after 14 years, elections were taking place in the entire territory of Kosovo, thus even in areas of Serb majority in the north, as a success of his government.
“As of today we can say that the north has been integrated and their leaders have been elected”, said Mr. Thaci.
On the other hand, prime minister Thaci continues his diplomatic efforts brokered by the European Union. On Wednesday, Thaci and Serb prime minister, Ivica Dacic have been called by Baroness Catherine Ashton for a fresh meeting in Brussels.
LDK is the first political force?
Democratic League of Kosovo led by Isa Mustafa has also announced victory in the early hours of Monday. Isa Mustafa appeared in front of the citizens of Pristina and said: “I’m here to announce that LDK is a winner on a national level. LDK has managed to gain the trust of the most part of the people. We believe that as of today, LDK is once again the biggest party in the country”, said Mustafa.
The head of LDK ran for the mayor of Pristina, but it seems that there will be a second round of elections.
What happened in the north? What was the role of OSCE?
Election day was going well in Kosovo and in the four communes of the north. People were going to the polls, both Serbs and Albanians. There were several problems, but crucial for the electoral process.
The electoral process was going well until 5 pm. The participation of voters until 5 pm was: In Leposavic, 22%, in Zubin Potok, 22% and in Zvecan 11.21%.
But suddenly, in the hours of afternoon, the situation changed completely in the north of Kosovo and violent incidents kicked off.
The head of the Central Election Commission, Valdete Daka said: “A group of masked people have attacked the poll centers in the north of Mitrovica, in the “Sveti Sava” elementary school by damaging the ballot material”.
She said that the personnel of CEC left and the process was suspended.
The member of the Central Election Commission, Florian Dushi said that this was a scenario which aimed to damage the electoral process and added: “Serb gangs in the north, well organized, in several cases masked, in several others not masked, have entered poll centers in the north and destroyed ballot materials”.
Meanwhile, the head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, ambassador Jean Claud Schlumberger says: “The voting was taking place and elections were successful in the entire northern Kosovo until 5 pm, when our staff was attacked in three poll centers in the north of Mitrovica. A group of masked men has attacked members of our staff in the TechnicalSchool, in the School of Medicine and in “Sveti Sava” school, by launching tear gas. The situation had also deteriorated in Zvecan. During this time, we were forced to withdraw our staff in northern Mitrovica”, says Mr. Schulmberger.
Meanwhile, a bomb which didn’t explode was found in the TechnicalSchool.
OSCE says that in spite of these incidents, the elections didn’t fail.
As far as to whether the OSCE has failed in guaranteeing security is concerned, the ambassador says: “No, OSCE has only helped in facilitating the process and this has been its duty”.
EU condemns the violence shown in the elections
In its first reaction, the European Union briefly talked about the incidents in Kosovo. Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman of the head of the EU for foreign affairs, Catherine Ashton, said: “We condemn the violent incidents in the north of Mitrovica, which ruined the elections, but on the other hand, the electoral process has been normal in the rest of Kosovo”.
EU observation mission will issue a preliminary evaluation for the elections on Tuesday, November 5.
USA: Except for the north, the elections were professional
The US ambassador in Pristina, Tracey Ann Jacobson has considered the elections in Kosovo as successful. “Putting aside Northern Mitrovica, USA has seen professionalism and enthusiasm all over Kosovo and only a few technical problems”, said on Monday, Tracey Ann Jacobson.
Elections, people seek change in order for their life to improve
The electoral campaign which took place in Kosovo was filled with promises. The candidates promised that they would change the life of the citizens. They spoke of many projects, which according to them, if they won, they would improve the life of the citizens.
Based on these promises, citizens went to the polls on Sunday.
Talking for IBNA, after leaving the poll centers, the majority of them were skeptic. They claim that they have met their mission of voting, but they do not expect the changes that were promised.
Ali is a 52 year old man from Pristina who works as a teacher. He says that he has voted in all the elections taken place in the past 14 years, but he has considered the promises as empty ones.
“We go and vote, but the promises are not the basis of the reason why we vote. Everyone promises, but they do very little. We have many needs. We need change, but it’s hard for this to happen.”
Aferdita is a 28 year old girl. She is unemployed. “I have heard many promises for employment in these days of campaign. I don’t think that this will happen, regardless of the winner of the elections”, says the girl from Pristina.
Qemal, a 68 year old man has retired for several years. He says that his economic situation is not good and is not expected to be improved.
“We have a pension which is not enough for the needs that we have, to live, to eat, to buy medicines, etc. But what’s important for us is for new jobs to be opened for the young people in order for our girls and boys not to spend all day in bars. This is sad”.
Ariana, an intellectual woman who works for a foreign organization is 46 years of age. She says that the country needs big changes. “We need Kosovo to see a new momentum. New jobs must be opened and the infrastructure must have European standards. Corruption must be tackled as it’s high and criminality must drop as soon as possible”.
Another intellectual from Pristina is Bujar, 46 years of age. He’s from Prizren, but due to his work in an international organization, he has moved to the capital. “The elections were normal and I believe they met every necessary standard. I don’t think that we must expect much from these elections, because it’s the local government which is changing and not the central government. Nevertheless, it’s a fact that the local government is decentralized and the budget can be better managed by local leaders”.
Media speak of change and runoff
Newspapers in Pristina have written about the results of the elections in Kosovo. They take two main stances: The political scene has changed and on the other hand, the runoff in many communes has left the political class waiting to discover as to which one will be the first political force.
“Koha Ditore” opens with the headline “The elections cause the change to start, failure in the north”.
“Tribuna” opens with the headline “Kosovo changes”. According to this newspaper, local government elections are changing the political scene in Kosovo.
“Zeri” opens with the headline “The war for the primate” referring to the runoff in Pristina and in the majority of communes in the country.
“Kosova Sot” opens with the headline “The majority in a runoff”.
“Lajm” opens with the headline “49,79% of the people voted”, while “Epoka e Re” has supported the government and opens with the headline: “PDK remains first, main communes in a runoff”.
Meanwhile, “Bota Sot” has supported the opposition: “LDK is the most voted party in the Republic of Kosovo”. /ibna/