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Power-hungry heirs

Kosovo parties fill lists with the relatives of well-established politicians and patriots in an attempt to boost credibility and garner support.

Many heirs of well-known Kosovo politicians and activists will compete against one another in the general parliamentary elections scheduled for June 11. It is not necessarily experience but rather family history and political credo that help these fresh faces to Kosovo politics garner votes for their parties.

It is not the first time that Kosovo parties have sought new names from ‘old families’ with close ties to the party and their leader to raise support.

In the previous general elections held in 2014, the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, included Teuta Rugova as a candidate, the daughter of the late Ibrahim Rugova, Kosovo’s ‘Historic President’ and the party’s ideological leader.

With 37,178 votes, the 27-year-old Rugova was the second most voted woman in Kosovo, trailing behind Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, another LDK candidate.

Yet, upon her election, the young Rugova was not an active member of the parliament, and rarely vocalized her concerns. Rather, Rugova will be remembered for receiving a bouquet of flowers from Hashim Thaci, her father’s historical political rival, on the day he was elected president with LDK’s votes.

Before her, the Rugova family was represented at the Assembly by Uke Rugova, Rugova’s second son, who joined the legislative branch in 2010 as part of the Coalition for the New Kosovo, KKR, also known as “the Ibrahim Rugova list.” Like his younger sister, Rugova was also not a boisterous MP, but became a prominent figure plastered on the front pages of newspapers when he was accused of leading a criminal ring selling Italian visas. The trial is ongoing.

This election, LDK has nominated Teuta Rugova once more – listing her as 12th on the election list.

Rugova is not the only ‘political child’ to be running for LDK, however. Doruntina Maloku, daughter of LDK political activist and journalist Enver Maloku–who was close to President Rugova and was murdered soon after the end of the Kosovo war in 1999 by unknown perpetrators–is also running as an MP. She is high on the list at number 18.

With 7,193 votes, Maloku was the last candidate from LDK to make the cut and enter parliament in the 2014 legislature.

Another fresh face, Fitore Geci, has also been added to this year’s electoral list. She is the daughter of Halil Geci, one of the seven infamous Geci brothers, avid LDK-supporters and members of the KLA. In the 2001-2004 legislature, Fadil Geci, Halil’s brother, served as an LDK MP. Yet another sibling was an MP in the 2007-2010 legislature – Gani Geci, a KLA commander who in 2016 was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for murder (the case is on appeal), was an MP for the Democratic League of Dardania, LDD, an LDK splinter party. By 2015, the splinter party that was formed in 2006 after a power struggle among LDK leadership contenders rejoined LDK.

With neither of the uncles running for parliamentary seats this election, Fitore Geci is listed 99th on the coalition list of LDK-AKR-Alternativa.

The LDK-AAK-Alternativa coalition also includes the daughter of Naim Ternava, the mufti of Kosovo’s Islamic Community. Refiqe Beka-Ternava is part of the New Kosovo Alliance, AKR,  and listed as number 51.

Ternava’s father, Naim, is in his third consecutive term as the leader of the Islamic Community, and he will end his five-year mandate next year. He has been the de facto leader of Kosovo Muslims, who make up 95 per cent of the population, for the past 14 years.

Descendants of power-house players can be found in the PDK-AAK-Nisma coalition as well.

Mergim Lushtaku, the son of Skenderaj mayor Sami Lushtaku, is running for MP with his father’s party. He is 35th on the list. Sami Lushtaku, who was found guilty of war crimes perpetrated during the Kosovo war of 1998-99 by two courts and will be appealing his sentence in front of the Supreme Court on June 20, is still serving as Skenderaj’s mayor, although he’s currently in jail.

Amongst other rookies, the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, has included the niece of the current President Hashim Thaci on their list of candidates. Evgjeni Dragusha-Thaci, the daughter of Hashim’s brother Gani, is 45th on the list. Thaci resigned from the party leadership last year and as Kosovo President is supposed to represent ‘the unity of the people,’ without showing party-preference.

Trailing behind Dragusha-Thaci is Beatrisa Demiri, the sister of former PDK MP candidate Elvis Pista, murdered in close-distance in 2014 only a week after elections ended. Back then, the deceased, whose murderer has not been found yet, gathered 6,468 votes and would have entered the Kosovo Assembly.

PDK’s list also includes Andin Hoti, who previously served as the Vice President of the PDK Youth Forum. He is the son of political activist and Kosovo’s first ‘foreign affairs’ cadre Ukshin Hoti. Hoti, a political prisoner of the Serb-regime throughout the 1980s and 1990s who disappeared after being released from the Nis prison in May, 1999, holds a lot of political credo to this day. His other descendant, Erleta Hoti, was a Vetevendosje candidate for MP in 2014 but did not garner enough votes.

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