Thursday

24th Aug 2017

Opinion

Thaci’s thirst for power is harming Kosovo

For about three weeks after the recent elections, Kosovo saw a heated debate on who has the right to form a government.

The snap elections were held on 8 June after parliament was dissolved in May due to a crisis of confidence in Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, whose coalition had lost the majority in parliament and become dysfunctional.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He had been criticised over high unemployment, corruption, and his increasingly authoritarian style. But the trigger was his failure to secure the vote from Kosovo’s minorities on the creation of the Kosovo Armed Forces.

In order to fight the June election, Thaci’s PDK party teamed up with a mixed bag of political groups, including the religious Justice Party, and The Movement for National Union, which advocates unification with Albania.

Turnout was low and the results changed little.

PDK came top with about 30 percent. The Kosovo New Alliance party of plutocrat Behxhet Pacolli, a Thaci ally, did not get back into parliament. But a new faction, the Initiative for Kosovo Nisma, got in just three months after its launch.

Normally, the side which comes first - winning 61 or more out of 120 seats - forms the government.

Thaci cobbled together 37 seats. But an LDK-AAK-Nisma coalition, formed just two days ater the vote, got 47.

In Kosovo, 20 seats are reserved for minorities, which always side with whoever can get them into power, giving LDK-AAK-Nisma a clear majority of 67 seats.

That should have been that. But Thaci claimed that since his party came top, only he had the right to form a government.

Causing a mess

According to Kosovo’s constitution, the president gives the mandate to the side which can deliver a majority in parliament. Kosovo is still a new and fragile democracy - its institutions are not strong enough to resist the mountain of influence that people like Thaci can move on their own behalf.

This is why the president failed to assert her authority and, instead, asked the constitutional court for a verdict. And this is why the court gave a confusing decision.

It said the party which came top can propose the government.

It also said that if this government fails to win majority support, then “it is at the discretion of the President of the Republic, after consultations with the parties or coalitions, to decide which party or coalition will be given the mandate to propose another candidate for prime minister”.

Its reasoning was blurry and controversial.

One judge even opposed the decision. In his dissenting opinion, American jurist Robert Carolan said the constitution gives the president “broad authority in nominating a candidate, who would have the best chance of obtaining the approval of the majority in the assembly”.

The parties accepted the ruling, however.

Thaci is still trying to forge a majority coalition even though it is crystal clear he won’t make it - the only party he can turn to, Vetvendosje, has vowed to shun him. If, or rather when, he fails, the president is expected to turn to LDK-AAK-Nisma.

If Kosovo authorities had taken into account the practice of well-established democracies we would not be in this mess.

Lesson from Luxemburg

Last year, the then Luxembourg prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, also called early elections.

His CSV party won 23 out of 60 seats, but despite coming first, three other parties - DP, LSAP and the Greens - created a coalition and left Juncker in the same shoes as Thaci.

Juncker also claimed the right to form a government. But the coalition’s candidate for PM, Xavier Bettel, said it is the parliamenary majority which counts. Green party leader, Francois Bausch, argued that “two-thirds of the voters did not vote for CSV … [so] it has no majority”.

Unlike Thaci, Juncker bowed out gracefully, even offering advice to Bettel on how to choose his cabinet.

The Luxembourg example should have showed Kosovo’s politicians, its president, and its court how to proceed.

The fact the president and the court fudged a decision in Thaci’s favour casts doubt on their competence in protecting Kosovo’s unity and democracy.

The biggest test of democracy is the peaceful transfer of power by the will of the majority. Coalition rule is an expression of that will, not of force.

But Thaci has proved he has little respect for democratic values. He wants to rule no matter what. And the guardians of Kosovo’s constitution have proved they are willing to serve power and influence instead of the law.

The writer is a graduate from Lund University, in Sweden, with a masters in European Affairs

Mogherini backs Western Balkan enlargement

Italian minister and incoming top EU diplomat Mogherini has called for progress on Western Balkan enlargement, while saying Russia is no longer an EU “partner”.

Managing migration: a European responsibility

"The EU now needs to bring its weight to bear, to ensure non-EU countries cooperate on taking back their nationals arriving as economic migrants", writes migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Macron goes east to test appetite for EU integration

The next few months will be decisive in selecting who stays in the core of the EU and who stays behind, writes Tomas Prouza, a former state secretary for European Affairs of the Czech Republic.

Column / Brexit Briefing

The return of the chlorinated chicken

Britain has only just started on the path towards a post-Brexit trade deal with the US, but you can already see the same all-too-familiar disagreements.

Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis

If you were to judge events purely on the US media's headlines, you would be forgiven for wondering if the Polish government had anything to do with its recent controversial judicial reforms.

News in Brief

  1. Air Berlin insolvency talks begin amid 'stitch-up' accusation
  2. EU calls on Serbia and Macedonia to remain calm
  3. Schulz wants US to remove nuclear weapons from Germany
  4. Ukraine and Russia to announce another ceasefire
  5. EU to investigate Monsanto-Bayer merger
  6. US will ask Nato allies to send more troops into Afghanistan
  7. Greece to be absent at event on Communism and Nazism
  8. Czechs want observer status in Eurogroup meetings

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides
  2. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  3. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  4. Martens CentreWeeding Out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  6. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  7. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  8. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  9. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  10. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School
  11. EPSUEP Support for Corporate Tax Transparency Principle Unlikely to Pass Reality Check
  12. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Improves the External Investment Plan but Significant Challenges Ahead