Kosovo’s Central Election Commission (CEC) formally certified the results of the February 14 general election on Saturday (March 13), paving the way for the formation of a new government.
Vetëvendosje (VV) will have a record 58 seats in the new legislature, three short of an outright majority in the 120-seat Assembly.
The certified results confirm that the joint-list between VV and acting President Vjosa Osmani broke numerous other electoral records, including the most votes for a single political entity — 438,335 — and the highest ever share of the vote (50.3%).
Over 870,000 voters cast a ballot in the election, more than in any other general election in Kosovo’s history.
The second largest party in the new Assembly will be the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) with 19 seats, followed by the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) with 15 — for both parties it represents the worst result in their histories.
Belgrade-backed Srpska Lista (Serb List) will have 10 deputies, after once again securing all of the seats reserved for the Serb community, while the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) will have 8 seats.
The 10 remaining seats will be held by deputies representing Kosovo’s non-Serb minority minorities. Two of these have changed since the provisional results announced on March 4, after the Supreme Court decided not to overturn decisions by the Elections Complaints and Appeals Panel (ECAP) to annul many of the votes cast for certain non-Serb parties in a number of Serb-majority areas.
Nisma, which received just 2.5% of the vote share, will not be represented in the Assembly after failing to meet the 5% minimum threshold.
Acting President Vjosa Osmani now has 30 days to convene the constitutive session of the new Assembly, following which the new government should be voted in.
VV leader Albin Kurti has already said he is confident that his party will be able to form a majority government together with representatives from Kosovo’s minority communities.
Presidential election coming up
In addition to getting to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic — which is again escalating with rising reported case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths — one of the first tasks of the new Assembly will be to elect a new president of Kosovo.
As president of the Assembly, Osmani took on the role of acting president of Kosovo on November 5, following Hashim Thaçi’s resignation.
She is favorite to be elected after explicitly campaigning in February’s election on the basis of wanting to extend her role to a full five-year mandate. As the top candidate on the joint list with VV, Osmani secured 300,756 votes — over 115,000 more than any politician in Kosovo’s history.
However AAK leader Ramush Haradinaj, who received 41,371 personal votes in February’s poll, has also reaffirmed his campaign wish of wanting to be the next president.
VV has invited the other Albanian parties to a meeting next week to discuss the formation of institutions.
Some constitutional experts have warned that if a new president is not elected before the acting president’s six-month mandate comes to an end at the start of May, new general elections would automatically be triggered.
According to the Constitution, new general elections would also be automatically triggered if the Assembly fails to elect a new president of Kosovo after three potential rounds of voting. A candidate requires a two-thirds majority in the first two rounds, but this drops to a simple majority if a third round is required.
Results of appeals
The most significant change between the provisional election results announced last week and the certified results confirmed on Saturday was in the allocation of seats for minority parties.
Following complaints of unusual voting patterns in Serb-majority areas, ECAP last week decided to annul almost 5,000 votes for Bosniak entities and more than 800 votes for Romani entities in various Serb-majority areas. These decisions were reflected in the certified results after the Supreme Court on Friday rejected appeals against them.
The biggest losers from ECAP’s decisions are the Romani Initiative (RI) and Adrijana Hodžić, a Bosniak candidate, after both failed to get the seats that they had been allocated in the provisional results.
RI, a new entity standing in elections for the first time, will still have one seat in the Assembly, but the second Roma seat will go to Erxhan Galushi from the Progressive Movement of Kosovar Roma (LPRK).
The seat originally allocated to Hodžić, who was also standing as a candidate in an election for the first time as head of a new initiative called United Community – Adrijana Hodžić, will instead go to Duda Balje from the Social Democratic Union (SDU).
Both RI and Hodžić were accused by political opponents of working together with Serb List after securing many of their votes in Serb-majority areas that have few or no recorded citizens of their own ethnicities. However both have strenuously denied any affiliation with the Belgrade-backed party and some activists have pointed out that voters supporting candidates or parties from other communities is not a new phenomenon in this election.
Hodžić, who has said she won votes in Serb-majority areas due to her record of inter-ethnic work, wrote in a Facebook post following the Supreme Court’s decision that she would take the case to the Constitutional Court, but that she was not confident that it would receive a fair hearing. “This is about basic respect for the rules and this is proof that Kosovo society is not ready to be truly multiethnic,” she wrote.
Separately, former Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj Stublla will not have a seat in the new Assembly following a recount of some AAK ballots. Haradinaj Stublla was allocated a seat in the provisional results, but ECAP ordered a recount of conditional and postal ballots cast for AAK after complaints of vote rigging within AAK’s list.
Haradinaj Stublla, who denies any wrongdoing, resigned from both her government position and from AAK on Tuesday (March 9).K
Feature image: K2.0.