Last night (May 16), an hour before the deadline to register pre-election coalitions, a shockwave hit Kosovo politics. The Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) and the Initiative for Kosovo (NISMA) signed a pre-election agreement, registering Ramush Haradinaj as the nominated candidate for prime minister from the coalition block of three parties — all of whom have their foundations in the Kosovo Liberation Army.
In the previous parliamentary term, the three parties had been fierce rivals as PDK governed alongside coalition partner the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), whilst NISMA and AAK formed a united opposition block.
Two years have passed of long standing political crisis, in part caused by a border demarcation agreement with Montenegro that was signed by then foreign minister, and former PDK leader, Hashim Thaci. The PDK-LDK coalition insisted that this agreement should be ratified in the Assembly, while the opposition, led by AAK’s Ramush Haradinaj, and including NISMA, strongly opposed the agreement, accusing PDK of treason, and of relinquishing more than 8,000 hectares of Kosovar land to Montenegro.
Less than a week ago, Haradinaj seemed disinclined towards coalitions, stating that there are “red lines” preventing entrance into any alliance with either LDK or PDK. However, it now seems as though the carrot of becoming the candidate for prime minister has changed his mind and that these red lines have vanished.
There has been speculation that a coalition between the three parties could be possible for some time, with the former head of PDK’s parliamentary group Adem Grabovci and NISMA founder Jakup Krasniqi photographed holding a meeting together in Durres as early as April 23. Soon after, on May 4, NISMA initiated a motion of no confidence in the government. Once the government fell, rumors of a coalition resurfaced.
A ruling by the Constitutional Court after the 2014 election created a precedent that only the party or coalition that receives the most votes in the election has the right to form the government; creating a situation where pre-election coalitions become advantageous, as it increases the chance of first place. Many attribute the decision to announce the new coalition so close to the deadline as being taken to prevent a similar deal between rival parties LDK and Vetevendosje.