How to prepare for the Kosovo early elections in the middle of COVID-19 pandemic?

On 14 February Kosovo will held early parliamentary elections, after the Constitutional Court ruled that the formation of the last government in June 2020 was unconstitutional. Since the last election in October 2019 many of the ongoing issues have not been solved, such as the necessary update of voters’ list. This time the elections will be held in a short notice and also in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, which poses additional challenges to Kosovo.

Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, Standing Rapporteur of Kosovo in the European Parliament, Head of EU’s Election Observer Mission for the 2019 Elections commented on the challenges:

“This time elections will take place under unprecedented circumstances, which will be very challenging for Kosovo, and some issues have to be settled beforehand. Due to external circumstances, there will be obviously no full-fledged international election observation mission, but international experts are going to follow the events on the ground, this shows the commitment of the international community. The European Union Office in Kosovo is providing considerable support with their expertise as well. We have asked the President of the European Parliament for a Parliamentary Observer’s Mission, at the moment we are waiting for his answer

Since there it is very unlikely to see independent international observers in large numbers, it is now more important than ever to have adequate number of local observers. Therefore, it will be crucial to get the necessary financial support from organisations, such as Kosovo Democracy in Action (KDA).

The short timeline between the announcement of elections and the day of the elections means that there are serious problems with ballot votes from abroad, which in practice means that the large majority of diaspora will not be able to vote, their basic democratic right is endangered, and this issue has to be addressed immediately.

Kosovo has experienced serious political instability in the past few years, there were months without any government and without a functioning parliamentary majority. This is not just effecting the level of governance, but in the time of COVID-19 crisis, it can cost lives. Therefore, I urge all political actors to think ahead now, and discuss the possible majorities and coalitions, even before the elections, in order to make sure a smooth transition and the setting up of a functional government as soon as possible.”

 

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