Kosovo’s democracy at risk? / Kosovska demokratija pod rizikom?

24.05.2018 Dr. Besnik Pula

This study addresses three areas of concern for Kosovo’s democratic development: the stability and duration of governments, electoral volatility, and the duration of processes including the negotiation and formation of ruling coalitions after elections. Since independence in 2008, no government in Kosovo has lasted a full (four-year) term in office. This has led to concerns over Kosovo’s political stability and democratic consolidation. However, contrary to popular perceptions, Kosovo’s governments are relatively long-lived. Indeed, Kosovo’s governments since 2008 have fallen on the longer end of the what is the average lifespan of a single continuous government in a European parliamentary democracy. Similarly, Kosovo’s electoral volatility as measured by the Pedersen index, while relatively high, falls within range of other of Europe’s transitioning democracies. As with these cases, it is the lower level of institutionalization of the party system that is chiefly responsible for the major electoral swings in recent years, including the dramatic success of some newcomer parties. Moreover, the growing apparent willingness of the Kosovo electorate to punish incumbents given the erosion of support for Kosovo’s two dominant parties, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), is a sign of the growing democratic maturity of Kosovar voters. As a result, the study concludes that neither the apparent short shelf-life of governments, nor the apparent electoral volatility represent threats for the consolidation of Kosovo’s nascent democracy.

The study also draws attention to the need for parties to cooperate on jointly constructing the democratic culture of informal norms needed to govern critical processes during transitions of power. Given that the PDK has continuously been in power since Kosovo’s independence, Kosovo has not yet experienced a full transfer of power in which an incumbent party relinquishes control of the government. It also draws attention to the need for more policymaking capacities within political parties in order to orient bargaining over coalition formation towards programmatic goals and policy directions as opposed to the division of the spoils of political power, as has been the trend in recent years.

“This publication is realized with support of the project Democratic Society Promotion (DSP) – financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (DANIDA) and managed by the Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF). The content of this publication is the responsibility of Democracy for Development Institute (D4D) and does not state or reflect the views or opinions of SDC, DANIDA or KCSF.”