A Functioning Coalition Government for Kosova–To Be Or Not To Be?

A FUNCTIONING COALITION GOVERNMENT FOR KOSOVA

TO BE OR NOT TO BE?


by Hon. Joseph J. DioGuardi

President, Albanian American Civic League


On November 8, I led an Albanian American Civic League delegation of Board members and supporters to Kosova to witness firsthand the beginning of an historic process, starting with open and free national elections, hopefully leading to effective self-government and ultimately independence for the long suffering Albanians of Kosova. The delegation remained in Kosova until November 18, and included Murtezan and Ajrullah Jonuzi (New Jersey), Henry Perolli and Ismet Ismaili (Texas), Sali Bukolla (New York), Nasi Kajana (North Carolina), and Mike Shabani (Alaska). The Civic League’s Balkan Affairs Adviser, Shirley Cloyes, remained at our office in New York in order to write articles, memos, and press releases that were essential to accomplishing the following key goals of this trip:


On November 8, I led an Albanian American Civic League delegation of Board members and supporters to Kosova to witness firsthand the beginning of an historic process, starting with open and free national elections, hopefully leading to effective self-government and ultimately independence for the long suffering Albanians of Kosova. The delegation remained in Kosova until November 18, and included Murtezan and Ajrullah Jonuzi (New Jersey), Henry Perolli and Ismet Ismaili (Texas), Sali Bukolla (New York), Nasi Kajana (North Carolina), and Mike Shabani (Alaska). The Civic League’s Balkan Affairs Adviser, Shirley Cloyes, remained at our office in New York in order to write articles, memos, and press releases that were essential to accomplishing the following key goals of this trip:


  • To urge all Albanians to vote to show the international community that Kosovars favor western-style, participatory democracy and had the determination and resolve to rule themselves


  • To encourage those who were doubtful about the process (or confused by the many parties) to vote anyway and to give the benefit of the doubt to the newest parties, such as the Alliance for the Future of Kosova (AAK), in order that no one party predominate, which would require that the three major Albanian parties work together in a coalition after the elections to create a functioning government


  • To publicize the Civic League’s long held position that the independence of Kosova is the only way to peace and stability in the Balkans, and is therefore in everyone’s interest


  • To conduct press conferences and interviews with local and international press regarding the Civic League’s position on aid to Serbia, the Covic-Haekkerup agreement, independence for Montenegro, and the implementation of the peace agreements for Albanian equality in Presheva and Macedonia.

The Civic League delegation was very well received in Prishtina, Gjilane, Prizren, Gjakova, and in several smaller towns and villages where we attended political rallies and town hall meetings sponsored by the Alliance for the Future of Kosova. It was clear to us that the Kosovars were excited by the elections and were ready to show the world once again, as they did in the municipal elections last year, that they had not taken democracy for granted and were getting ready to control their own destinies as citizens of an Albanian jurisdiction seeking economic and political integration within a united Europe and independence from Yugoslavia and Serbia.


again, as they did in the municipal elections last year, that they had not taken democracy for granted and were getting ready to control their own destinies as citizens of an Albanian jurisdiction seeking economic and political integration within a united Europe and independence from Yugoslavia and Serbia.


Looking back, a week later, it is easy to conclude that the Albanian people of Kosova have passed another important test while the world was watching. Although the turnout was about 10 percent lower than it was at the historic election last year, a very high 65 percent (approximately 800,000) of the registered voters (1,249,987), including Serbs and other minorities, cast their ballots in a very peaceful and democratic way. This would be a great result in ordinary circumstances. But when one considers that the NATO war ended as recently as June 1999, and that just over two years ago more than one million Kosovars were displaced from their homes, most of which were burned to the ground or badly damaged, the election process and results were nothing short of wondrous.


The Albanian American Civic League did not go to Kosova to monitor the elections, because there were a sufficient number of international nongovernmental organizations and government officials observing the elections. Instead, the Civic League took advantage of the presence of the international press to interact with journalists at the UNMIK press center in Prishtina and across Kosova to promote the important agenda of our League as an independent voice for seven million Albanians living side by side in the Balkans. In this connection, we hosted a major press conference at the Hotel Illiria in Prishtina and handed out our twelve-year anniversary poster, graphically depicting the history of the Civic League’s efforts on behalf of Albanian freedom, focusing on the independence of Kosova. In addition, we disseminated 100 press kits containing the following important position papers and letters:


  • Cloyes letter to Congressman Henry Hyde, dated November 14, spelling out why the Civic League is against further aid to Serbia at this time unless critical conditions are met


  • Cloyes article opposing the signing of the “UNMIK—FRY Common Document”


  • Cloyes/DioGuardi paper urging Bush to confront Boskovski and other hardliners in Macedonia to avoid a new killing field there, to keep NATO on site, and to ensure the implementation of the Ohrid peace agreement


  • Letter from Congressman Ben Gilman to Secretary of State Colin Powell, written at the advice of the Civic League, objecting to the breakdown of the Presheva peace agreement

In addition to the aforementioned activities, I also conducted extensive media interviews about the Kosova elections and the issues raised in the Civic League’s press kit with Kosovalive, TV 21, Zeri, and RTK Bluesky Radio. Meanwhile, the Civic League delegation also participated in many non-political events, including the formation of a new Olympic Committee for Kosova’s entry into the 2004 Olympics and a meeting with the key people involved in establishing an emerging accounting profession, which is needed to facilitate the anticipated large increase in private investment and the banking and tax collection activities now in the process of being institutionalized in Kosova.


League delegation also participated in many non-political events, including the formation of a new Olympic Committee for Kosova’s entry into the 2004 Olympics and a meeting with the key people involved in establishing an emerging accounting profession, which is needed to facilitate the anticipated large increase in private investment and the banking and tax collection activities now in the process of being institutionalized in Kosova.


The end result of the election was pretty near to what we had anticipated, and I believe

that it turned out in the best interests of all Albanians (and others) in Kosova. What I mean by this is that no single Albanian party ended up dominating the elections, and therefore a government cannot be formed without the involvement of all of the major Albanian parties. Having witnessed the economic and political disaster that a one-party, majority-dictated government has caused in Albania since1997 and again with the elections in 2001, the best that one could hope for in Kosova was an election result that would force all Albanians to work together to create a functioning coalition government. Only in this way could Albanians make a successful quest for independence, and this, in my opinion, is apparently now about to happen.


As of this writing, my understanding of the election results is as follows:


Albanians Seats Percent

LDK/Rugova 47 39

LDK/Rugova 47 39

PDK/Thaci 26 22

AAK/Haradinaj 8 7

Other Albanian

Parties 4 85 3 71%


Other

Serbs 22 18

Serbs 22 18

Other Minorities 13 35 11 29%


Total 120 seats 100 percent


Before I give my own analysis of the election results and possible scenarios for a future governing coalition, I thought that you should hear what a local, seasoned political analyst, Shkelzen Maliqi, had to say in Koha Ditore just after the elections:


“The internationals might not be surprised with the results of the elections, but we cannot say the same thing about the entities that participated in the electoral race. We can rightly say that the entities remained disappointed and dissatisfied. This goes for the small parties as well–a majority of which achieved catastrophic results, just as they did in last year’s local elections. The three main Albanian political parties, which are assured participation in the parliament, show signs of dissatisfaction. This goes especially for Ibrahim Rugova and the LDK, who were convinced that their party would gain another clear and easy victory, guaranteeing them full control over the government and the main posts in administering a postwar Kosova.


“The fact that the LDK won less than 50 places in the parliament, which consists of 120 seats, is almost a defeat for the LDK. Although a bit late, the LDK leaders have finally understood the traps in the Constitutional Framework and the electoral system, which they approved without thinking twice, because they were convinced that they would win a majority of the votes. Even while the elections were going on, Rugova and LDK pretended that they had already won 70 percent of the votes, which was unrealistic to say the least.


“LDK lost a great part of the Albanian electorate. During the local elections last year, the party won 59 percent of the votes, while this year they won only 52 percent of the [Albanian] electorate. However, due to Serb participation in the elections, the aforementioned percentages decreased even further. As far as the LDK is concerned, we can say that the party won in the general election due to inertia and without having launched an active electoral campaign. (It won by gaining from the mistakes of the other political parties.) The parties that had less success in the local elections, PDK and AAK, invested more effort by changing their presentations and platforms during the general elections. These parties expected more and were therefore disappointed with the results. However, they gained a slight increase in votes among the Albanian electorate, a fact that can be considered an encouraging trend. This is especially true for the AAK, which had and still has a structure consisting of many entities. Meanwhile, the LKCK and LPK have faded from view, but the AAK proceeded forward.”


Since LDK did not receive even a simple majority of the votes cast (having achieved only 39 percent of the 120 seats in the new Kosova Assembly), it cannot form a government without a coalition with others. And since Ibrahim Rugova is now proclaiming “independence for Kosova” as hard as any other Albanian political leader, a coalition with Serbs is not only out of the question ideologically, it would be political suicide for LDK in the upcoming municipal elections and in future national elections. That leaves as the only immediate possibility a coalition with the other Albanian parties, which in total control more than 71 percent of the new assembly. The reason for this is that the Interim Constitutional Framework, the highest legal document passed during the rule of the international administration, prescribes that a two-thirds (66 2/3%) majority is needed to elect the president. If the president is not elected in two rounds of voting, the system of a simple majority (51 percent) is applied in a third round. This means that


Rugova would need at least 61 votes (51 percent of 120 seats) to form a government, and yet LDK has achieved only 47 seats in the Assembly as result of the election. That is why LDK must form a coalition with other parties, even in the third round, if it is to lead an effective, functioning government. This process begins on December 10, the date set for the first meeting of the new Kosova Assembly.


yet LDK has achieved only 47 seats in the Assembly as result of the election. That is why LDK must form a coalition with other parties, even in the third round, if it is to lead an effective, functioning government. This process begins on December 10, the date set for the first meeting of the new Kosova Assembly.


While a coalition with LDK, and only AAK and other smaller parties would be enough, in mathematical terms, to form a Kosova government in the third round of voting, Ramush Haradinaj told me well before the election on November 17 that he will not be part of a coalition government that does not include the three major Albanian parties, and he has repeated this statement several times since the election. As he cast his ballot at the Dr.Ali Sokoli Medical School in Prishtina on Election Day, Haradinaj rightly said that “the post-election parliament will maintain the objectives of Kosova, and in this we are convinced that we will have the support of all political parties.” Hashim Thaci echoed these sentiments when, in conceding defeat, he said that, “the time has come to put the interests of Kosova before the interests of political parties.” (emphasis mine)


Regarding Rugova’s future role and even responsibility in all of this, I could not say it better than Shkelzen Maliqi did in his Koha Ditore column on November 24:


“Rugova and the LDK for twelve years have been functioning as movements, whose aim is to represent the national and state interest. The challenge that Rugova and the LDK now face is that they could become representatives of a particular interest that does not have the support of the majority of Kosovars.


To conclude, one of the co-governance formulas will be imposed on Kosova. Whichever formula this will be, it will reveal the process of negotiation, which will be very difficult and might even produce unexpected results. It is very possible that Rugova will withdraw his candidacy in order to make it easier for LDK to reach a more effective model of co-governance. It is crucial for the people to be aware of the fact that the future institutions must not serve personal ambitions. These institutions are Kosova’s institutions. The current trauma of the LDK and Kosova’s ‘president’ cannot become the trauma of Kosova. We will soon see clearly and understand who is engaged in the important issues and who wants to promote himself, his party and personal agenda at the expense of good government.”

To this the Albanian American Civic League says AMEN. And since the UN administrator has reserved the right to be the foreign minister for Kosova, the Civic League stands ready to continue to work with all Albanian leaders and parties as their strong, independent voice in Washington and in parliaments around the world.


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