I tend to be someone who is very passionate about issues in Kosovo, as is probably the case with everyone that was born or has lived there at some point.
I am especially interested in the upcoming October local elections, mainly because so many issues that affect the lives of citizens on a daily basis are under the direct competencies of local governments. That includes budgets that are set out to deal with problems facing local citizens on issues that impact citizens lives and lived experiences.
As a lecturer in Journalism Media and Cultural Studies, and as someone who previously taught and researched in Kosovo, I am of course very interested in all this.
I am also happy that new candidates — especially some that were previously part of civil society — have come forward to run in the mayoral races for different municipalities. Perhaps unable to curb my enthusiasm, I have previously offered advice to those running only to later regret it terribly.
I find that generally in Kosovo, legislation is clearly set out, while of course there is always room for improvement. However, the law is often overlooked and when questioned, politicians and new candidates often seem aloof to legislation.
I have often found that candidates and those in office tend to give personal opinions and pour out their thoughts on an issue, although they are being asked about specific existing laws and legislation. Similarly, social media profiles are used to create public opinion (perhaps not surprising since Trump and Post-Truth), gain votes and legitimise actions, as well as delegitimize concerns that citizens have about issues that have not been resolved.
So, here are my 10 points on How (not) to Politically Campaign in Kosovo.
- If you think it is important to engage voters in a healthy democracy, then use your Facebook profile to post personal opinions on issues rather than referring to legislation or data that has been collected through robust methodology, never mind that this is tantamount to lying and probably breaking the law.
- Use your Facebook profile to post as much as possible, also twitter, hell any social media platform you can, I mean does anyone even talk to the electorate in person anymore?
- When experts approach you on a subject, the best thing you can do is tell them that you have your own opinion and you don’t care about research based evidence or the legal frameworks that they are addressing you on.
- If you are asked about spending and budgets, just make things up as you go along.
- If someone presses you further on an issue they have raised, then talk about ‘the children’ or ‘the poor’ and how much they need something, even if it isn’t a related topic or mutually exclusive.
- If you go on TV to answer questions, try and delegitimize questions and concerns by suggesting that this is something that a) can’t be resolved or b) is too complex for the audiences to understand c) insert your own way of insulting the electorate’s intelligence.
- If all the above fails, get your supporters and their supporters to jump on those who disagree with you or ask difficult questions, by branding them unpatriotic, or corrupt, or from opposing political parties. Preferably, get them to do this on social media, so you can get maximum impact.
- ‘Money Maketh the Man’ or was it ‘manners’? In any case, the campaign isn’t going to pay for itself. So make sure you get secret donors who are super rich but super corrupt and preferably linked to Serbia and Russia.
- Remember that how you appear and are covered in the media is very important, if you must meet with secret and corrupt donors make sure you do not make the mistake of getting photographed with them.
- If all fails, just follow Trump on twitter. That should help you learn everything you need to know about political campaigning in a healthy democracy!
Illustration: Kosovo 2.0.