The political crisis in Kosovo is deepening following President Hashim Thaçi’s decision to consult political parties on next steps, and their differing interpretations of the Constitution.
The outgoing Prime Minister Albin Kurti of the Vetëvendosje party (LVV) responded that setting an election date after the pandemic is the only constitutional course the president should stick to, instead of attempting to bring together a new parliamentary majority that would create a new government.
The second largest party LDK and opposition parties claim that the President should ask the LVV to form a new government; and if LVV fails, than the LDK should be mandated to lead the new government.
On Monday, Thaçi met with ambassadors of Western countries (France, Germany, Italy, UK, US) and the EU to inform them on his planned steps. He said “[he] will decide on the best option to get out of this situation” after consultations with political parties.
LVV has announced it will not attend such consultations but other parties are expected to join the president.
In his statement Thaçi underlined what he thinks the country needs at this moment: “a government that will bring about stability, the greatest possible political and civic unity, one that will be all-inclusive and with a clear Euro-Atlantic orientation.”
The two key articles of Constitution regarding the matter, on which the parties seem to disagree, are the following.
Kurti argues that Article 82/2 [Dissolution of the Assembly] is applicable in this case: “The Assembly may be dissolved by the President of the Republic of Kosovo following a successful vote of no confidence against the Government.” According to him, “the Assembly may be dissolved by the President” means that the Constitution guides the President to actually dissolve the parliament in such a scenario.
Kurti cited two precedents: the dissolution of parliament in 2010 by Acting President Jakup Krasniqi following the no-confidence vote against the Thaçi government, and President Thaçi’s decree in 2017 to dissolve the parliament after the no-confidence vote that brought down the Mustafa government in 2017. In both cases, early elections were declared immediately after successful no-confidence votes.
LDK and opposition parties argue that the President must rely on Article 95/5 [Election of the Government] of the Constitution: “If the Prime Minister resigns or for any other reason the post becomes vacant, the Government ceases and the President of the Republic of Kosovo appoints a new candidate in consultation with the majority party or coalition that has won the majority in the Assembly to establish the Government.”
The LVV claims that this is not the case; i.e. the prime minister has not resigned and his post has not become vacant for any other reason, but the whole government was voted down in a no-confidence vote.
According to Art.95 of the Constitution, the president should ask Kurti’s LVV to appoint e PM candidate. Although he has not explicitly argued for it, political analyst argue Thaçi has given signs he might go this path.
However, a new government led by or with LVV in it seems highly improbably after the breaking up with their junior coalition partner LDK. The latter has excluded chances it could join forces with any of the big opposition parties which it accuses of corruption.
Moreover, the Constitution puts no deadline on the majority party (LVV) to present a PM candidate upon president’s invitation, and this might create another impasse.
On the other hand, opposition parties led by LDK have stated their willingness to form a new government without the largest party in parliament LVV.
The political crisis risks to deepen even further if one considers current positions of its main actors, whilst the ousting of the Kurti government amidst the coronavirus epidemic has left large parts of the nation angry at their politicians and less hopeful for their future.