In-depth | Elections

Vjosa Osmani elected new president of Kosovo

By - 04.04.2021

Former acting president secures five-year mandate after political brinkmanship.

Vjosa Osmani has been elected as the new president of Kosovo, after securing a majority of votes from deputies in the Assembly.

The former acting president, who secured more personal votes than any other candidate in Kosovo’s history in the recent general election, becomes Kosovo’s fifth president since declaring independence in 2008. She will have a five year mandate.

Concluding three days of high-stakes political drama, the decisive vote took place on Sunday evening during a continuation of Saturday’s extraordinary Assembly session. Attempts to hold the vote the previous evening had twice failed after not enough deputies had taken part to meet the required quorum.

Running against nominal opponent Nasuf Bejta — who was part of Osmani’s “GUXO” initiative as part of a joint list with Vetëvendosje (VV) — the first two rounds of voting proved inconclusive as neither candidate received the required votes of two-thirds of deputies. But in the third and final round, when the threshold for victory was reduced to a simple majority, Osmani secured the necessary support.

She received 71 third-round votes in a secret ballot, and crucially 82 deputies took part in the vote to ensure the required quorum.

Presidential voting results

Round 1:
Osmani 69, Bejta 0 (81/120 deputies) — no candidate receives two-thirds support

Round 2:
Osmani 67, Bejta 4 (82/120 deputies) — no candidate receives two-thirds support

Round 3:
Osmani 71, Bejta 0 (82/120 deputies) — Osmani wins with simple majority

As anticipated, deputies from opposition parties PDK and Srpska Lista did not take part in the vote, and all of AAK’s deputies except Albena Reshitaj also stayed away. It was reported that PDK’s Adelina Grainca, who also took part in the vote, has joined VV.

Deputies from LDK attended the session, but former Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, Agim Veliu and Driton Selmanaj stayed firm in their position not to participate in the vote. 

However two deputies from minority parties who had missed Saturday’s vote — Fadil Gashi from the Romani Initiative and Adem Hodža from the Unique Gorani Party took part on Sunday and ultimately the quorum was reached.

If no candidate had received a majority in the third round of voting, or if impending constitutional deadlines had been missed, Kosovo would have found itself facing another extraordinary general election — the third in 18 months.

Osmani, who secured more than 300,000 personal votes as a deputy candidate in the February 14 elections, becomes Kosovo’s second woman president. The first, Atifete Jahjaga, is the only president to date to have served a full five-year mandate.

Osmani was serving in the role of acting president until March 22 having assumed the role automatically as president of the Assembly in November 2020 when Hashim Thaçi resigned in order to defend war crimes charges at the Specialist Chambers in The Hague. She was briefly succeeded by VV’s Glauk Konjufca after he was elected president of the Assembly last month.

Speaking from the Assembly lectern following the vote, Osmani said that besides being her life’s greatest honor, the presidency gives her even more responsibility “to fulfill the will of the citizens.”K

Feature image: K2.0.

Editor’s note: This article was written as a breaking news story and was updated with additional details after it was initially published.