June 2017 elections. | Photo: Atdhe Mulla.

42,000 new diaspora register to vote

Following the deadline for voter registration on September 10, the Central Election Commission announced a record number of voters from Kosovo’s diaspora have registered to vote in the October 6 parliamentary election.

More than 42,000 members of the Kosovo diaspora have submitted applications to be registered to vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections, which are scheduled to take place on Sunday, October 6. 

This was announced by Chief Executive of the Secretariat of the Central Election Commission, CEC, Enis Halimi, who said that the applications had been received, but not yet approved.

“The total number is 42,300, which are in the process of being evaluated,” said Halimi. “We believe that in the next two days we will finish processing the applications, so that we have them ready for the voting process.” 

The Central Election Commission is an independent institution responsible for the organization and implementation of elections in Kosovo. The CEC regulates and monitors the electoral process, and also has power over the registration of political parties in Kosovo. 

It is estimated that between 400,000 and 600,000 Kosovo citizens are currently living abroad that would be eligible to vote in elections in Kosovo.

The number of applications submitted for voter registration in the diaspora doubled in 2019 in comparison to the 2017 parliamentary elections. In June 2017, only 20,354 (6.8 per cent) of diaspora members attempted to register. According to the CEC, 15,118 of these applications were approved following evaluation. Of this number, only around 6,000 (30 per cent) actually submitted votes. 

Among the diaspora, 71 per cent of the votes in the 2017 elections went to opposition party Vetevendosje, while 16 per cent went to the coalition of the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, the New Alliance of Kosovo, AKR, and Alternativa. The final 13 per cent of the vote went to the PAN coalition, comprised of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, and Nisma. 

According to Lirim Krasniqi, a political analyst for the diaspora-focused NGO Germin, considering that the voter turnout in Kosovo has been low in previous elections (41.3 per cent of registered voters sent in ballots in 2017), enhanced contribution from Kosovo’s diaspora could have a “significant effect on increasing democratic legitimacy in the country.” 

However, he said, logistical barriers to voting means that equal access for citizens abroad has so far not been possible. Delays in postal voting, the primary voting method for diaspora, has resulted in many votes coming from abroad either being lost or arriving after the election results are published.

According to an Ombudsperson report issued following the 2017 election, Kosovo should implement physical voting with ballot boxes set up in diplomatic or consular missions in foreign countries around the world. While more expensive, the report states, this would allow for a more reliable and democratic participation of the diaspora in Kosovo’s parliamentary elections. 

Elections were primarily triggered by the resignation of Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj on July 19. The decision to hold early elections was announced on August 22 by Kosovo President Hashim Thaci. 

17/09/2019 - 10:45

17 September 2019 - 10:45

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.