Tuesday

24th Apr 2018

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 for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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”.

More commitment to renewables from Council, please

More and more consumers are likely to invest in solar panels in the future as it becomes simpler to produce one's own electricity, writes Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation.

How to reset EU-Burma relations

Europe should go back to its pre-2012 policy, wipe away aid and trade benefits, and tie democratic efforts to the reinstatement of benefits.

News in Brief

  1. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  2. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  3. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  4. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement
  5. Nahles elected new leader of Germany's SPD
  6. Report: EU budget to refocus on South
  7. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  8. MEPs urge better protection for journalists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  2. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  3. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  5. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  6. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  7. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  8. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  9. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  10. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  12. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations

Latest News

  1. Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack
  2. European Commission proposes whistleblower protection law
  3. Secrecy of VW fraud report 'unacceptable', says MEP
  4. 'Strong suspicion' of corruption in Council of Europe assembly
  5. France tightens immigration law, sparking division
  6. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  7. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  8. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  2. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  5. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  6. European Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  7. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  8. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  9. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  10. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  12. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?