The electoral teachings from Kosovo that we do not want to follow

By Mero Baze

There is a fake enthusiasm regarding certain aspects of the Kosovo elections, such as the quick counting of votes, which as a matter of fact is entering its third day and the acceptance of failure from the ruling party.

Compared to the most recent elections in Albania, the quick counting of votes is really impressive, but the issue with Albania is that, according to a change of the electoral law in 2003, all ballots have to be collected in one centre to be counted.

The change came after Sali Berisha’s insistence, who claimed that counting the votes into the specific voting centres left room for vote changing and vote stealing.

But, in 2019 we are in a completely different context. The votes could be easily counted in the voting centres and within a day turnaround, the country would have the result of the elections nation-wide.

The lack of incidents during the elections in Kosovo is a real achievement, which came also as a result of the fact that the race was divided into specific parties, rather than political blocks.

During the 2012 elections, the US ambassador to Kosovo at the time described the situation as an “industrial stealing” of votes. This came as a result of political parties aligning into three political blocks. In the recent elections, each of the parties ran separately.

If we would still have the coalitions of 2017, the elections would have completely different results. The lack of solid coalitions made the campaign more civilized as the race was also split into multiple parties.

As for the acceptance of failure, the only ones to do so were Kadri Veseli and Ramush Haradinaj.

In Haradinaj’s case, when you only win 10 percent of the votes there isn’t much to argue about.

Meanwhile, in Kadri Veseli’s case, the statement helped to release tensions but at the same time it was more of a personal statement. His party did not accept the result and requested a recounting of votesas the 3 percent difference with the winner gave room for suspicions. But, the request was overruled bye the Electoral Panel.

In Albania, not accepting the loss of elections is part of a culture inspired by Sali Berisha. He has never accepted any elections that he has lost, while Edi Rama admitted even the results of elections that were stolen on live TV with a difference of only ten votes.

The only thing to be discussed with responsibility regarding the Kosovo’s elections is its electoral system.

Kosovo has a national proportional system with a preference of five candidates. The lists are not open, but preferential. Only the top five candidates from a list of 100 can be chosen.

Open lists in a national proportional system are an open door to any gangster aspiring into politics, who can secure enough votes for himself to then turn into a political factor.

To me, it is important the technical aspect of the electoral reform. The quick counting in the voting centres and apolitical commissioners

An effort regarding electronic counting would be welcomed, but the manual counting in voting centres cans till solve the issue.

Albania has tried all the electoral systems. We have experienced the consequences of each system and realized that it is not the systems that are faulty, but rather the parties’ inner political culture as well as the inability to reform them.

The first step in this case would be to have the Central Elections Commission certify the parties’ inner elections.

There can be no free and democratic elections in Albania if both these elements do not exist within the parties themselves.

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