Isa Mustafa and Albin Kurti. Photo: BIRN

Vetevendosje and LDK at a standstill over formation of next government

Disputes over the position of president has stalled the signing of a governing agreement between the two former opposition parties that won the majority of votes in October’s parliamentary election.

With the certification of October’s parliamentary election results by the Central Election Commission, CEC, on November 27, many expected the formation of Kosovo’s next coalition government to follow shortly after. 

The certified results saw the opposition parties in the previous mandate gain the most MPs: Vetevendosje with 29 after receiving 26.2 per cent of the overall vote and the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, with 28 having received 24.5 per cent. 

Working together, Vetevendosje and LDK would only need the backing of four MPs from Kosovo’s minority communities to command a parliamentary majority, with Vetevendosje claiming they have already secured the support of 10 candidates. 

The two parties have been continually meeting since preliminary results placed them as the most voted subjects. Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti, and Isa Mustafa of LDK met one-on-one on Saturday November 30, after which Kurti’s party stated that they have “harmonised 100 per cent of the government programme.” 

On Monday, the leaders met again, but failed to sign a coalition agreement. “We have agreed regarding the government programme and other issues that were harmonised between our working groups,” Mustafa said on Monday. “We have some other issues which we discussed with Mr. Kurti and which need to be agreed and which could help in striking the deal.”

Both leaders have reiterated that the next government will be comprised of 12 ministries, a dramatic reduction from the previous government which was made up of 21 ministries. Party officials have outlined a split of five ministries each for the two parties, while the remaining two ministries will be led by members from parties representing Kosovo’s ethnic minorities, in line with the Kosovo constitution. Kurti is expected to be prime minister, with a representative from LDK likely to become Speaker of the Assembly. 

However, problems appear to have arisen over a non-parliamentary position, that of President of Kosovo. “The governing deal has not been finalized because, in a way, LDK conditioned the governing agreement and the formation of the Assembly with another position, that of Kosovo president,” Vetevendosje’s Glauk Konjufca said during an interview on T7 television.

Konjufca added that Vetevendosje rejects the idea of having a president that represents a single party, insisting that the president should represent the unity of people, an issue the party will not compromise on.

Responding to Konjufca’s comments, LDK’s Lumir Abdixhiku warned that “immature statements” by Vetevendosje may jeopardize the chance for coalition. “Disagreements between partners should be resolved between each other, eye to eye, and not with insults on TV stations,” Abdixhiku wrote on Facebook.

Current president Hashim Thaci’s mandate will not end until April 2021,but LDK seem eager to make his successor, who will be appointed by the Kosovo Assembly, part of discussions. In an interview for BIRN’s televised program ‘Jeta ne Kosove’ on November 22, Mustafa revealed that he felt it important to address the issue immediately in order to avoid problems in the future

“I think now is the time to discuss all the issues,” he said. “Within the first half of the mandate, we will be challenged by the issue of the president, and we don’t want to neglect challenges that can jeopardize our coalition.”

The position seems to represent a recent change of position from the party. In a pre-election interview with T7, LDK’s candidate for prime minister and deputy leader, Vjosa Osmani, stated that the position of president should not be part of political bargaining, adding that if the party came first they would insist on this. Osmani also stated that LDK ruled out using the presidency as part of the formation of a pre-election coalition.

For political analyst Blerim Vela, the dispute between the parties is jeopardizing the optimism supporters felt after the emphatic victory of the opposition parties.

“Reaching an agreement will happen when both parties compromise on personal ambitions of key figures within the party,” Vela wrote on Facebook. “While the program has been harmonised, tensions over sharing ministries and the position of President is getting back to the politics of PDK.”

While LDK released a press release on Wednesday stating their commitment to forming a coalition alongside Vetevendosje, no further meetings between the party leaders scheduled for the future have been made public.

04/12/2019 - 17:09

04 December 2019 - 17:09

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