Although Albin Kurti and others are not listed on the ballot, people will vote for them in even higher numbers because they were forbidden from doing so, they will want to help them because they see them as victims of the system – well-known Kosovo journalist, Jeta Xharra said in a statement for KoSSev. Xharra spoke of the election turnout, but also about what she believes is happening at the moment – Srpska Lista is allegedly working on securing support for two new minority lists while helping some Albanian parties in the efforts to prevent LVV from securing the parliamentary votes to form a new government.
The official campaign for the extraordinary elections scheduled for February 14th started yesterday. Two Kosovo governments toppled in a year – one, led by Albin Kurti, collapsed after less than two months, and the second, led by Avdullah Hoti, seven months later. Kurti and Hoti blame each other for the fall of their respective governments. Hoti’s government toppled by a decision of the Constitutional Court stating that it was illegally elected – based on an appeal filed by the Self-Determination, while the Supreme Court of Kosovo has now confirmed that Kurti cannot be included in the electoral ballot due to a final court judgment against him.
„It is peculiar that some of the key political figures, such as Albin Kurti, for whom people voted for in 2019, are now being told ‘you cannot compete in this election, the rules have changed, and by the way, the rules have changed because your party took a case before the Constitutional Court seven months ago!“ – Xharra said, citing this as one of the distinctive characteristics of the upcoming elections.
Currently, there are 20 candidates from all parties who cannot run, but they were allowed to do so in the 2019 elections, she recalled, warning of the „boomerang effect“.
„Reverse psychology will dominate, I predict. If someone is told – ‘you can’t do that, can’t vote for those people’, in fact you have already made a myth out of them and people will want to vote for them even more. So, even though Kurti and others are not on the ballot, people will respond by voting for them in even higher numbers because they were ‘banned’ from doing so and they would want to ‘help the underdog’ – that is, the one they believe is a victim of our system. Removal from the ballot will result in a boomerang effect. „
She underlined that, according to all previous polls and predictions of the Kosovo media, such as TV Dukagjini, T7, and TV Klan Kosova, Self-Determination is „far ahead compared to other parties“.
Xharra, however, could not specify as to whether such an advantage also indicates that this party will get enough votes to form a government on its own, or whether they will need to form a coalition.
„It remains to be seen,“ she added.
The non-Albanian votes could greatly influence this uncertainty.
When asked to share her view of Serbian and other minority parties, Xharra said that Srpska Lista’s alleged cooperation with certain Albanian parties and simultaneous support for „satellite minority lists“ is a way to decrease votes for Kurti in the elections.
„Representatives of two Serb lists and two Bosniaks were guests on our programme (the Kallxo Pernime debate) and they expressed concern that Srpska Lista was creating a legitimate satellite Bosniak list and Roma lists, and providing them with guaranteed seats, while issuing orders to some Serbians voters to vote for the Roma list in Gracanica and the Bosniak list registered in North Mitrovica. When I asked them why SL would do that, they claimed that it was because SL was cooperating with some Albanian parties to ensure that Kurti’s future government did not get the votes it needed in parliament. That’s what I believe is happening.“
A ray of sunshine in a gloomy pandemic
The fact that the upcoming elections are taking place during a pandemic is another of its distinctive characteristics – Xharra underlined.
„For example, we used to hold debates in halls full of people, they responded to the promises of candidates, and now there is a very gloomy atmosphere, there is no audience, it is quiet and, in many ways, it is much less aggressive than the debates used to be,“ this Kosovo journalist said.
When asked to share her impression of the candidates who made a guest appearance in her show, Xharra said that she likes the fact that they are more disciplined than ever before and that they respect the time determined for presenting their programme, even though they have just a minute or two for each answer.
„I like the fact that there are far fewer insults and attacks on a personal level than was the case before. I like that there is a lot of acceptance of problems in Kosovo, so the analysis of the problems is similar for all parties, but the diagnosis for solving them is different. I also see that more women are sent from their party headquarters to our debates than ever before, and in addition, there are more good female candidates on party lists. I think that, in the age of Covid, these events are a ray of sunshine in a generally rather dark pandemic and a limited world of contacts we live in.“
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