From: Bledar Qalliu
Failed Coalition Costs Ethnic Albanians All Seats in Serbian Parliament  

The Albanian community in Serbia will not be represented in the new Serbian parliament elected last Sunday.

The failure of Albanian parties to strike a coalition deal appears to be the main reason behind the loss of the three parliamentary seats that Albanian MPs have occupied since 2020. 

Additionally, the Serbian government has enacted policies to systematically remove Albanians from the civil registry which have proven to be an effective tool to strip them of their voting and other basic human rights. This is another reason behind their defeat in parliament. 

Although some Albanian politicians are trying to present it as such, the Serbian government’s policies are not enough to justify in full their crushing defeat and striking failure to run in a coalition.

Three MPs of the Party for Democratic Action (PDA), led by Shaip Kamberi, had been representing Albanians living in the Presheva Valley, an area located in southern Serbia. 

This unprecedented representation came after Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s initiative to bring all Albanian parties in Serbia together under one banner, as well as Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s tacit approval. The two leaders have collaborated increasingly closely since Rama’s first visit to Belgrade in 2014, culminating with the establishment of the Open Balkan free trade area.

But amidst the Russian aggression against Ukraine and uncertainties around the future of the Open Balkan initiative, neither Rama nor Vucic cared to receive another facelift as progressive leaders advocating for minority rights and integration.

Further, there were no reports of the Kosovo government of Prime Minister Albin Kurti making any substantial attempts to support a coalition in the Presheva Valley before the Serbian electoral campaign.

As a result, Albanian politicians in Serbia were unable to agree to join forces on their own without coordination from Albania or Kosovo.

Kamberi’s PDA and Shqiprim Arifi’s Alternative for Changes ran with separate lists, obtaining 9,644 and 3,250 votes respectively and resulting in zero seats gained. A coalition of Albanian parties obtained over 26,000 votes in 2020, resulting in three seats in parliament.

Arifi blamed the result on Kamberi’s refusal to agree on a coalition, while the latter slammed Vucic’s policy to prevent Albanians from voting and demanded repeat elections in the Presheva Valley.

The removal of ethnic Albanians from Serbia’s civil registry is a policy that has been implemented since at least 2011. Previous research on the number of Albanians removed from civil registry cannot explain the striking 50 percent (about 13,000) fewer Albanians casting their vote this year, compared to the 2020 elections. This gap requires more than Serbia’s silent policy for the administrative ethnic cleansing of Albanians to be filled. 

In addition to Serbia stripping ethnic Albanians of their basic rights, local politicians and the lack of engagement by the governments of Albania and Kosovo are also responsible for this tragic failure.      


Read more: The Consequences of Vucic’s ‘Passivization’ Campaign on Thousands of Albanians in Serbia