From: Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Renegade MPs Join Forces with Socialists, Qualified Majority in Sight

When the opposition party MPs made the gamble to vacate their seats in Parliament, much to the chagrin of the internationals, they counted on the fact that those candidates lower on the electoral lists would, like them, refuse to take up their seats.

Now that 19 opposition MPs have taken up their seat in spite of their parties’ wishes shows that this hope may have been misplaced.

Discipline in the LSI appears to have broken down completely. In 2017, the LSI won 19 seats in Parliament after leaving the governing coalition with the PS. By now, already 10 of their vacated seats have been taken up by “renegade” MPs.

The situation for the PD looks slightly better, and the candidates defying party discipline appear to belong, in part, to the smaller allies that the PD gave a place on its list in 2017, such as the National Front Party (PBK) and Union for Human Rights Party (PBDNj). These are therefore not PD party members, and less expected to adhere to party discipline.

We are now also getting a better view on whether the Socialist Majority will be able to reach the necessary 3/5 majority in Parliament, 84 votes, to pass crucial legislation in advance of the elections, such as the Electoral Reform and elect a new General Prosecutor. The PS currently has 75 seats in Parliament, while the 4 MPs outside parliamentary groups vote with the PS.

Recent voting behavior in Parliament indeed seems to suggest that the new MPs will help the PS to achieve such majority, in particular the new MPs of the LSI.

Two recent votes, during the parliamentary session on March 28, for the ratification of a collaboration with Montenegro and for the, more controversial, police vetting law, 6 MPs of the opposition voted together with the Socialist majority: Majlinda Halilaj and Lefter Maliqi (PD), and Nimet Musaj, Ralf Gjoni, Ediola Braha, and Edlira Hyseni (LSI).

These numbers suggest that the PS would indeed command a qualified majority in Parliament.

Furthermore, there seems to be confusion as to whether the new MPs are in fact member of any parliamentary group, and as such have the right to financial support, office space, etc.

Of the PD, only Myslim Murrizi and Rujdina Hajdari, who refused to resign their mandates, are designated members of the PD in the voting results. Of the LSI, only 5 MPs are recognized as members, while the other 5 are designated “MPs outside a parliamentary group.”

It also appears that Parliament has completely removed the opposition MPs from their website, which now only lists “Socialist Party” and “MPs outside parliamentary groups.” The latter category, however, excludes those LSI members officially counted as “outside a parliamentary group” in the voting results.

It therefore appears that even Parliament itself no longer knows which MP belongs to which party. But what is clear, is that the government appears to have found a way out of this political conundrum, and as long as the Constitutional Court cannot rule the current Parliament unconstitutional, they have the numbers to continue their legislative work while ignoring the opposition’s protests.

– Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei