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Kosovo elections and political preferences of conservative Muslims
Kosovo elections and political preferences of conservative Muslims

Following the separation from Serbia, we can summarize the current parties who have struggled for the past seventeen years.

Ömer Jashari / Kosova

The early general elections that took place in Kosovo on June 11 th could be considered as one of the calmest and generally speaking, in political history as one of the rarest international legitimate elections.

Within an approximate three year time frame, Kosovo, led by the coalition of PDK and LDK experienced much upheaval: the establishment of the Serbian Municipal Union, the failure to establish a border treaty with Montenegro, the inability to establish an army, failure to break an economic bottleneck and conflict within the coalition, and last but not least, a resulting conflict of interest that was instigated by the PKD themselves left them no choice but to go to an early election.

Following the separation from Serbia, we can summarize the current parties who have struggled for the past seventeen years.

The so-called PAN coalition or 'War Wing’, consisting of AAK (Alliance for Kosovo's future) and NISMA (Initiative for Kosovo), led by the PDK (Democratic Party of Kosovo), with LDK (Democratic League of Kosovo) led AKR (New Kosovo Alliance ) and the VV, Vetevendosje (Self- Determined Movement) that is representing a relatively new party and a younger generation, with the Alternative Party forming the 'Peace Wing' coalition as a third alternative.

The PDK and the LDK, who jointly ruled Kosovo together during the previous government, stand out as the most important parties in Kosovo. When we look at the official and indefinite election results, the PAN coalition gained 33.9 percent of the votes with 39 representatives, the VV gained 27 percent with 31 representatives and the LDK coalition received 25 percent with 30 representatives. When we look at the history of the participating parties, the parties that form the PAN coalition are the parties that are dominated by former members of the Ushtria Çlirimtare Kombëtare (National Liberation Army, UCK) army.

In other words, after 1999, the powerful regional commanders formed a new party but had conflict within as well as finding themselves in critical and foundational positions during Kosovo’s formation of a state.

The PAN coalition, therefore, was born directly from the idea and philosophy of the former army wing. On the other hand the LDK party was established by Ibrahim Rugova, the first President of the Republic of Kosovo.

AKR also identifies itself as a party close to the LDK philosophy. In these elections, one of the most interesting parties was the (VV) Vetevendosye (Self-Determined Movement).

In 2014 municipal elections the party won the right to rule the capital Pristina and in general terms, the public who was satisfied with the local council, cast their votes on June 11 in the capital, giving 41 percent of the votes to the party. VV, who at the time had insufficient experience at a national level, is considered to be a populist party and identifies itself as a democratic left party that speaks in the language of the people.

As a party it is similar to the democratic leftist parties in VV Europe, which have adopted the rhetoric of human rights, equality and social justice. Albin Kurti, the leader of the VV, is known to be one of the very young people in his early years at university who organized student demonstrations against the Serbian occupation in 1981. Later in 1999, he served as an assistant to Adem Demaci, the director of the UCK political bureau. He was arrested by the Serbs in 1999 and was imprisoned in Serbia's notorious prisons.

He was released after the war under pressure from international observers. He later challenged the direct negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia and initiated public opinion by advocating the idea of ​​Kosovo-Albania. Thus, deservedly, VV is one of the important political forces that need to be closely watched. When we analyze the political system in Kosovo, we also need to consider the place of the minorities in the system. According to the Constitution of Kosovo, 20 direct seats from 120 representatives in the Kosovo parliament are reserved for minorities. 10 of these 20 chairs were allocated to minorities such as Turks, Bosniaks, Goran, and Roma with the remainder for the Serbs.

When we look at the population ratio, this ratio, which is quite high, does not match the reality of the population. According to the Kosovo census of 2013, three percent of the population consists of Serbians and one percent consists of other minorities. Many times minority members of parliament take their place with that the people do not want during the government establishment, which in actual fact prevents them from representing the true will of the people.

PERSPECTIVE OF CONSERVATIVE MUSLIMS IN THE JUNE 11 ELECTION

One of the most issues that were discussed in the June 11th election was the question of who the conservative Muslims would vote for. The conservative Muslim term along with the conscious Muslims refers to a wide section of the population. This is a consequence of both the PDK and the LDK who historically have been criticized in the past years for their attitudes towards Muslim conservatives.

The fact that covered female teachers, especially in regards to the headscarf issue, cannot work in public schools and that 96 percent of young girls cannot go to school gives way to serious concern regarding the Muslim population. In response to these attitudes, different parties with Islamic tendencies – mainly coalition parties with the PDK - have entered the parliament on the back of the Muslim votes in the past years but they have not made any efforts to defend the Muslims' case.

In this election, the Justice Party, headed by Ferid Agani, entered the PDK coalition which was criticized by Muslims. Agani who was the Health Minister and his party representatives failed to enter parliament. Another important candidate who competes under the PDK is Meryem Uka, who is Haci Ilyazi’s daughter-in- law whom the Turkish public is well acquainted with. Uka also did not gain the votes to enter the parliament in this election.

The Justice Movement formed under the leadership of Suleyman Cerkez, who was dissatisfied with the Justice Party, entered the LDK coalition but failed to get any representatives. Despite having two women wearing headscarves as candidates under this party, neither of them received a vote of confidence. Meanwhile, a noteworthy candidate was Labinote Demi-Murtezi, who received the most votes amongst women in the last elections. Murtezi also could not enter parliament. Another name that Muslims are familiar with is the biological daughter of the current Kosovo mufti.

She also participated in the election race under the LDK coalition but also failed to receive enough votes. On the other end is the Fjala party (The Word), led by Gezim Kelmendi, who refused to be a coalition partner with any other party and only received one percent of the vote.

It should be noted that Kelmendi is one of the rare politicians who advocates for Turkish-Kosovo cooperation in every platform. Undoubtedly, the greatest reason why Muslim candidates failed in this election is the failure to achieve any level of success in previous governments, especially in regards to the headscarf issue.

In addition, most of the Muslim voters in Kosovo announced that they would vote for Vetevendosye. VV leader Kurti participated in the iftar programs during the election campaign and promised the public that there would be no interference with dress, religious life or political opinion if he was elected prime minister.

This was sufficient gain great sympathy amongst the Muslim voters. Consequently, the elections in Kosovo have resulted in significant changes in the political scene with the votes of the people. People who have previously voted for old coalition partners, that was based on nationalism, war nostalgia, and such discourse and propaganda, showed that they made a more conscious vote., the only country that does not have the free visa in the EU virtually punished the Kosovo politicians’ failures and the ensuing economic stalemate of the Balkans.

On the other hand, what we have described as conservative Muslims have now voted for the national parties in preference of candidates who claim a vote for Islam.

 



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