After an Upset Election Win, Can Anti-Establishment Forces End Kosovo’s Limbo?

After an Upset Election Win, Can Anti-Establishment Forces End Kosovo’s Limbo?
Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti speaks to supporters during a political rally in the town of Ferizaj, Kosovo, Sept. 26, 2019 (AP photo).

A left-leaning anti-establishment party scored an upset victory in parliamentary elections in Kosovo last weekend, as voters strongly rebuked the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, or PDK, which had been in power since the country declared independence in 2008. The left-wing Albanian nationalist Self-Determination Movement, or Vetevendosje, took a plurality of 26 percent, and the more mainstream Democratic League of Kosovo finished a close second. Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti, a former political dissident, will now try to form a coalition government, but how exactly he will do so is unclear, says Aleksandar Kocic, a Serbian-born journalist and lecturer in journalism at Edinburgh Napier University. In an email interview with WPR, he discusses the significance of the election results and what they could mean for stalled negotiations aimed at normalizing relations with neighboring Serbia, which refuses to recognize Kosovo.

World Politics Review: What accounts for the defeat of the ruling PDK party in last week’s elections, and why did Vetevendosje perform so well?

Aleksandar Kocic: This election result marks a significant anti-incumbent swing in the public’s mood in Kosovo. After a decade-long era in which former guerilla fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army held a tight grip on power, voters were clearly eager for a change. The PDK, which has been in power since the country declared independence in 2008, garnered only 21 percent of the vote. This shift in sentiment was particularly pronounced in the capital, Pristina, where Vetevendosje and the Democratic League of Kosovo, or LDK, took a combined 70 percent of the vote share.

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