Kosovan PM appoints new ministers as formation of new majority remains uncertain

Kosovan PM appoints new ministers as formation of new majority remains uncertain
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest August 7, 2017

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Isa Mustafa has appointed four ministers to replace those that had to step down after being elected as MPs in the June 11 elections, the prime minister’s office announced on August 7.

The new ministers will be part of the acting government until a new executive is voted in by lawmakers: a scenario that seems rather remote, given that lawmakers have not agreed yet on appointing a speaker, and political tensions are rising. Mustafa’s government is therefore likely to remain in office until possible snap elections on October 22 (when local elections are already scheduled). 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has already deferred the final review of its stand-by arrangement (SBA) with Kosovo, but the country's macroeconomic fundamentals are robust and the political uncertainty is not likely to significantly hurt foreign direct investment. 

Mustafa appointed former deputy minister Agim Krasniqi to head the ministry of finance on August 7. Deputy PM Hanafi Muharremi will head the ministry of infrastructure, and former deputy minister Safet Kamberis will take over the minister of labour. Mustafa’s chief of staff, Vlora Dumoshi, will manage the ministry of culture. Mustafa also announced that he will replace the other ministers who were elected to the parliament.

On the same day, acting parliament speaker Adem Mikullovci of Vetevendosje, the second largest political force in the parliament, summoned lawmakers for a new constitutive session on August 10, prompting protests from the largest political block PAN. Mikullovci was appointed temporarily based on his seniority.

But while Vetevendosje, which has 32 of Kosovo’s 120 MPs, will boycott a consultative meeting scheduled for August 9, the PAN coalition (39 MPs) implied it intends to boycott what it called the “arbitrary” constitutive session summoned by Mikullovci on August 10.   

The appointment of a parliament speaker after the inconclusive June general elections remains uncertain and forming a parliamentary majority is an even more remote scenario, given the latest developments in parliament. Holding early parliamentary elections at the same time as the local elections on October 22 is an option, political analyst Ramush Tahiri quoted by KosovaOnline commented. Tahiri argued that actually all the political parties are interested in buying time with the continuation of the constitutive session to bring the country to the elections.

"The consultative meeting [on August 9] is formal, as well as Thursday's [constitutive] session of the parliament”, Tahiri commented.

Another analyst quoted by KosovaOnline, Imer Mushkolaj, said that the PAN coalition, which is led by the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), does not have the necessary votes to elect a speaker but will block the functioning of the legislative body until it gets the necessary majority.

“If it fails to secure votes, then PAN will take the country to more elections. It's PAN's struggle for life and death to continue to stay in power,” said Mushkolaj.

The PAN coalition is sometimes named “the war coalition” because of the involvement of its leading members in the fight for independence as members of Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Aside from the PDK — led by President Hashim Thaci until he became Kosovo’s president — it also includes the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) and the Initiative for Kosovo (Nisma). With 39 lawmakers, it needs the backing of another 22 to have majority in the parliament. The coalition has put forward Kadri Veseli for speaker.

The runner-up in the election was the left-wing Vetevendosje with 32 deputies. It was generally seen as the winner of the June elections, where it massively outperformed expectations. It was followed by the LAA coalition comprising the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK, formerly a member of the ruling coalition alongside the PDK), New Kosovo Alliance (AKR) and Alternativa party with 29 deputies. The Serbian List, which represents the Serb community in Kosovo won nine seats in the parliament. Other parties are presented with only one or two lawmakers.

The option of a Vetevendosje - LAA parliamentary majority is not very likely because of the lack of preliminary negotiations between the two, and more importantly the presidency’s role in deciding future steps should the largest political player fail to form a parliamentary majority. This means Thaci can either ask the second largest party to form the majority, or call early elections, under a Constitutional Court decision given in 2014.