Slow Count Keeps New Kosovo Govt in Limbo

With the last votes from the general election yet to be counted, the political parties are still squabbling over who has the right to form a new government in Kosovo.

The ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, and the recently established coalition between the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK and Nisma per Kosoven [Initiative for Kosovo] are still haggling over who has the right to form a new government.

No action can be taken before the results of the general election held on June 8 are officially certified.

The Central Election Commission, CEC, said it will announce the final results once the counting process at the Counting and Results Center is finished.

But Tuesday’s count stopped only hours after it started, after election observers from different political parties blocked the procedure.

The observers claimed they had evidence that someone had copied the ballot papers and voted several times for one of the MP candidates from the Srpska List, representing Kosovo’s Serbian community.

Amid arguments over whether the counting should continue, the observers blocked the process, announcing they would file a complaint at the Elections Complaints and Appeals Panel.

The Counting and Results Center has so far counted 2,886 of 10,698 conditional votes. In total, more than 30,000 conditional votes, postal votes and votes by people with special needs need counting.

People use conditional votes to cast ballots not from the location where they are due to vote, but from another election center.

These votes are put in special boxes and are counted only after the counting of the other votes is completed.

Only once the counting is finished can the final results can be announced and certified by the CEC. The parties then have 24 hours to lodge complaints.

If a complaint is filed, the CEC will have to wait until it is resolved by the Elections Complaints and Appeals Panel before it can certify the results.

According to preliminary results, the PDK won most of the votes in the June 8 polls. It won 30 per cent of the vote and will hold around 36 seats in parliament.

The LDK, led by Isa Mustafa, won 25.75 per cent of the votes, taking 30 seats, while Ramush Haradinaj’s AAK won 9.61 per cent of the votes, giving it 13 seats.

The new Nisma per Kosoven [Initiative for Kosovo] established by two PDK defectors, Fatmir Limaj and Jakup Krasniqi, just passed the threshold, winning 5.24 per cent of the votes. It is expected to have six or seven seats.

Albin Kurti’s nationalistic Vetevendosje Movement won 13.51 per cent of the votes, while Behgjet Pacolli’s New Kosovo Alliance, AKR, did not cross the 5-per-cent threshold.

The PDK leader, Hashim Thaci, was expecting Pesident Atifete Jahjaga to nominate him to establish a new government, but his plan was unexpectedly blown off course last week when the AAK, the LDK and Nisma united in a coalition expressly designed to ‘prevent a third Thaci government’.

The coalition has also gained the provisional backing of the Vetevendosje Movement. But the PDK maintains it has the right to form the new government, describing the Haradinaj-led coalition as ‘unconstitutional’.

Driton Selmanaj, from the Kosovo Democratic Institute, said the remaining uncounted votes will not change matters significantly.

The extra votes ‘might change the results for parties that had problems passing the threshold but not the results of those already well positioned on the political map’, he said.

Selamanj said Nisma might now cross the 5-per-cent threshold, for example, although the AKR was unlikely to follow suit.

Even if the AKR makes it into the parliament, Thaci will be struggle to find enough allies to form an administration.

The PDK will have to form a coalition with the ethnic minorities, which have ten seats, with the Serbs, who also have ten guaranteed seats, and with another party in order to ensure the minimum of 61 votes needed for a working majority.

The PDK has already announced that it will take the issue to the Constitutional Court if it is not mandated to form the new government.

Under the constitution, the President proposes a candidate for Prime Minister to parliament in consultation with the party or coalition that has a majority in the assembly.

The candidate for Prime Minister then presents the composition of the government to the Assembly and asks for the Assembly’s approval.

If the proposed government does not receive the endorsement of a majority of votes, the President has to appoint another candidate, following the same procedure, within ten days.

If the government is again not elected, for the second time, the President must announce fresh elections.

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