Perspectives | Elections 2019

In Numbers: Kosovo’s new deputies

By - 12.11.2019

What do the official election results tell us?

Now that the elections are over and the Central Election Commission (CEC) has published the official results, we have a much clearer idea of how the new mandate of the Kosovo Assembly will shape up.

The two previous opposition parties, Vetëvendosje (LVV) and LDK, have won and — for now — look set to have a majority of seats in the Assembly, although with appeals and legal battles continuing, final confirmation of the final parliamentary arithmetic will have to wait.

But with the official results also including the list of newly elected deputies, another piece of the jigsaw is in place. And closer inspection throws up plenty of further insight into the direction of each party’s travel as well as some interesting facts.

So, who are the newly elected deputies and who are the former deputies who failed to be elected this time? Which party’s women deputies were all elected without the help of the gender quota? 

Who is the new record-holder for the number of votes received and who did they overtake? Who is the second most voted-for person in the history of Kosovo elections? Which candidates individually got more votes than previously governing parties combined? 

And what can these elections tell us about the potential race for the capital in the 2021 local elections?

What do the numbers say?

Albin Kurti, head of LVV and the candidate who is most likely to be the next prime minister of Kosovo, experienced a double triumph. Not only did he lead his party to its first victory, but he also set a new record for personal votes, with 183,868 in total. 

As such, he broke the record of the current president, Hashim Thaçi, who won 166,422 votes when he ran for prime minister in 2014 as part of PDK. LDK prime ministerial candidate Vjosa Osmani’s 176,000 personal votes also saw her overtake Thaçi’s previous record.

LVV was close to breaking another record. Glauk Konjufca, who was number two on the party’s list of deputy candidates, was the second-listed candidate with the most votes — 72,755 — just short of Fatmir Limaj’s record of 75,689 votes that he set in 2010 when he ran as a PDK candidate. Konjufca did win almost double the votes that were received by the pre-election coalition comprised of Nisma and its coalition partners.

Defying her many doubters, Vjosa Osmani came out as the prime ministerial candidate with the most support from voters of her party.

LVV’s Albulena Haxhiu won 46,861 votes, about 15 times more than in 2010 when she was elected after running for the first time. Haxhiu was the third-most voted LVV candidate, but she secured more votes than all the second-most voted candidates from the other parties in parliament.

Another important statistic is the percentage of votes for prime minister candidates in relation to the total number of votes for each respective party. 

Defying her many doubters, Vjosa Osmani came out as the prime ministerial candidate with the most support from voters of her party, securing personal support from 85% of the LDK electorate. Albin Kurti won support from 83% of LVV’s electorate, while Kadri Veseli won 82% of PDK’s.

Ramush Haradinaj picked up 78% of the vote share of the AAK-PSD electorate, meaning that he was the leader with the least support from voters of his own party list. This means that almost one in four AAK voters decided not to vote for the prime ministerial candidate.

However, the fact that the whole campaign was focused on speeches given by prime minister candidates and controversies between them, as well as the fact that each Albanian political leader received at least three-quarters of the support of their respective parties’ electorate, is a testament to the ongoing dependency of political parties on their leadership figures.

‘The old is crumbling down — the times are changing…’

In his masterpiece “Wilhelm Tell,” the great German poet Friedrich Schiller wrote this famous verse. Similarly, a great Albanian poet, Migjeni, wrote the following: “We, the sons of the new age, leaving the old to its ‘sanctity.’”

Naturally, it would be an exaggeration to say that these elections will bring revolutionary changes to political parties, but it is notable that every political party has experienced an element of subversion. To a great extent, the electorate decided to punish “the old” — more so in the sense of longevity in the political scene, rather than actual age — and push forward representatives of a new political generation.

Fifty-six percent of LVV’s anticipated parliamentary group is comprised of new figures as the party looks set to have 18 new deputies. Former deputies Ismail Kurteshi, Sami Kurteshi, Shemsi Syla and Xhelal Sveçla, among others, miss out.

Another thing that is notable in LVV’s list of deputies is the high number of new additions to the party, people who had joined the party just months before being elected. Moreover, some of them performed very well, with Hekuran Murati winning over 23,000 votes, Haki Abazi winning 16,000, Yllza Hoti 15,000, Mefail Bajqinovci over 14,000, Labinot Demi over 13,000, Hajrulla Çeku over 12,000, and so on.

Demands for changes within PDK are notable in the exclusion of some prominent party figures.

Among LDK’s 20 most-voted deputies are 15 deputies who have either been elected for the first time, or have been perceived as being part of LDK’s new reformative generation despite having been deputies before. 

The most surprising exclusion from LDK’s projected parliamentary group is that of Ismet Beqiri, the secretary general of the party and former mayor of Prishtina.

PDK also felt the spirit of change after a campaign in which new faces — in terms of politics, at least — were pushed to the forefront. Many of their new political figures, who were primarily promoted by party leader Veseli, managed to get elected for the first time. 

Despite younger figures such as Uran Ismaili, Eliza Hoxha, Abelard Tahiri, Besa Ismaili and Kujtim Gashi all getting elected, former directors of different sections of the Kosovo Intelligence Service (SHIK) Elmi Reçica, Ferat Shala and Fatmir Xhelili will also form part of the party’s parliamentary group. 

Demands for changes within PDK are notable in the exclusion of some prominent party figures, including Xhavit Haliti, Rrustem Mustafa-Remi and Ramë Buja.

The AAK electorate was the most conservative this time around in terms of deputies selected. Only three new names are among AAK’s projected 13 deputies: Albena Reshitaj, Gazmend Sylaj and Arbër Tolaj. Meanwhile, Ahmet Isufi, Burim Ramadani, Gazmend Abrashi and Muharrem Nitaj missed out. 

PSD, which is set to be the fifth party in the Assembly, will have only one deputy, Natyra Kuçi, who is also a part of the new generation, while prominent figures such as party leader Shpend Ahmeti, Dardan Molliqaj and Visar Ymeri did not manage to secure seats.

Time to increase the gender quota?

These elections proved that women are being increasingly recognized by the electorate, with 26 out of 39 new deputies being directly elected without relying on the 30% quota, according to Albert Krasniqi, an analyst of the election process. This represents a significant increase on two years ago, when 17 women were elected without the quota.

All of LVV’s 11 women deputies were elected with no help from the gender quota. Compared to the last legislature, only one — Drita Millaku — out of the six former LVV women deputies who stood for reelection was not reelected in the new mandate.

PDK was the party with the most women deputies elected with the support of the gender quota (six out of eight), while three out of four AAK women deputies relied on the gender quota for their election, as did PSD’s lone deputy. Seven LDK women deputies were elected directly, with just two entering the Assembly based on the quota.

The arguments of those who point out that 30% is not enough to ensure equal gender representation are reinforced.

Another surprise in this election was the performance of deputy candidates from the Serb community. The most voted person from Lista Srpska (Serb List) is a woman, Jasmina Dedić, who won 19,703 votes — 34% of her party’s total vote share. Two out of the three most voted candidates of the Serb List are women, leaving the leader of the candidates’ list, Igor Simić, in fourth place.

Although there were still women deputies who needed the gender quota to get elected, with the trend of more and more passing without it, the arguments of those who point out that 30% is not enough to ensure equal gender representation are reinforced.

But who are the most voted women in the new legislature of the Kosovo Assembly?

Vjosa Osmani (LDK) is way out ahead at the top of the list, followed by Albulena Haxhiu (LVV) with 46,000, Mimoza Kusari (LVV / Alternativa) with over 22,000, Saranda Bogujevci (LVV) with over 18,000, Marigona Geci (LDK) with over 17,000 and Yllza Hoti (LVV) with over 14,000. 

PDK’s most voted woman, Eliza Hoxha secured over 9,000 votes, followed by Ariana Musliu with over 8,000, a similar number to AAK’s most voted woman, Time Kadriaj.

(Un)pleasant surprises 

The process came with many surprises.

One was that so many candidates who were in the top 20 first spots in their respective party lists failed to get elected.

From the “100% Kosova” list of AAK-PSD, only 75% of the top 20 — 10 AAK candidates and 5 from PSD — failed to get elected, although this can partly be explained by them only receiving 13 deputies and the general poor performance of PSD. It was actually a surprise for many that PSD had the power to reach the threshold at all, securing their one seat in the final moments.

The success and failure of AAK’s candidates indicates that personal proximity to the base was more important than the ranking in the candidate list.

The amount of exposure candidates received in the media and their professional training appears to have been a significant factor for the LVV’s voters.

Thirty percent of LDK’s top 20 candidates did not get elected, including number 11 Ismet Beqiri, as well as Valon Murtezaj, Besa Gaxherri, Fidan Rekaliu, Vlora Dumoshi and Florian Dushi. Voters instead seem to have preferred those they perceive as reformers.

LVV and PDK’s top-20 generally fared a little better, but 20% of each still failed to make the cut. 

Xhelal Sveçla of LVV was ninth in his party’s list, but did not manage to get elected, similarly to Taulant Kryeziu, Avni Zogiani and Ismail Kurteshi. The amount of exposure candidates received in the media and their professional training appears to have been a significant factor for the party’s voters.

Valon Murati was number five on PDK’s list, but did not manage to get elected, perhaps due to the fact that he is the leader of the Movement for Unification (Lëvizja për Bashkim – LB), which ran as part of PDK’s list. Safete Hadërgjonaj, also failed to get re-elected, while party newcomers Butrint Batalli and Migjen Kelmendi also missed out, with having belonged to another party previously, or joining PDK too late in the day seemingly not well received by PDK voters.

Nisma and its coalition partners’ apparent failure to reach the threshold would have been seen as a surprise by many ahead of the elections, although with appeals pending, they may yet spring another surprise by scraping through on a recount. 

Dice rolled for the mayorship of the capital?

It seems that in this election, the “dice was rolled” for the next round of local elections, especially for the mayorship of the capital.

In fact, although the next local election is scheduled for autumn 2021, some political parties have presented their candidates for the mayorship of Prishtina already, while others have not rejected speculation in the media over potential names. 

But how did some of the potential candidates for the mayorship of the capital fare amongst Prishtina’s voters in this election? 

At LVV, Arben Vitia, the former director of health care at the Municipality of Prishtina who is rumored to be in line to be the party’s mayoral candidate in the capital in 2021, won 11,415 votes in Prishtina on October 6. Two other former directors within the Municipality, Liburn Aliu and Saranda Bogujevci, won 6,515 and 5,211 votes respectively.

“You have made the direction of my political engagement clear.”

Lumir Abdixhiku, LDK

LDK’s 2017 candidate for the mayorship of Prishtina, Arban Abrashi, won 6,799 votes in the capital on October 6, while Lumir Abdixhiku won 10,168 votes. In fact, after the results were made public by CEC, Abdixhiku, thanking his voters in Prishtina in particular, stated: “You have made the direction of my political engagement clear.” Party spokesperson Besian Mustafa won 6,553 votes.

At PDK, Uran Ismaili, the party’s official candidate for the mayorship of the capital in the 2021 election, won 7,110 Prishtina votes, while Abelard Tahiri won 2,903, Memli Krasniqi 2,382, and Eliza Hoxha 2,554. With its official candidate falling well short of the support received by potential rivals, and other potential candidates not reaching 3,000 votes, it looks unlikely that PDK will be a serious contestant in two years.

The AAK-PSD list, with the latter currently running the Municipality of Prishtina, won few votes in the capital. Current mayor of Prishtina, Shpend Ahmeti, won only 1,698 votes, while Visar Ymeri won 1,339, and former deputy mayor of Prishtina, Dardan Sejdiu was the most-voted PSD candidate in the capital with 1,776 votes. Considering that Ahmeti has led Prishtina for the past six years and still received such a small amount of support from Prishtina’s citizens, it looks almost impossible for the PSD mayor to secure a third term.

As for AAK, besides party leader Ramush Haradinaj, Daut Haradinaj (1,800), Brahim Mehmetaj (1,221), Besnik Tahiri (1,209) and Bekë Berisha (1,200) also picked up votes in Prishtina but nowhere near enough to suggest they will be a political force in the capital anytime soon. K

Feature image: Atdhe Mulla / K2.0.