Kosova’s general election on the 14 February ended with a ground-breaking victory for the left-wing party, Movement for Self-Determination (LVV). LVV won the elections by a massive landslide, capturing 48 % of the electorate. This should be seen as a crucial event in the political history of post-war Kosova.
Already in the 2019 snap elections LVV won the elections with a small margin. In a coalition with LDK and other minority parties, LVV formed the Kurti government;. it lasted for only 52 days as LDK and the rest of the ruling elite joined forces with the right-wing administration of Trump to bring down through an institutional coup the democratically elected government of Albin Kurti, in March 2020.
The reason behind the institutional coup was Albin Kurti’s opposition to signing Trump’s “peace deal” between Kosova and Serbia, a mocking diplomatic gesture by the Trump administration, but one with political consequences for Kosova. With the help of the ruling elite, Special US Envoy for Serbia and Kosova Richard Grenell put pressure on LDK, LVV’s coalition partner, to withdraw its support for the government, and thus led to the collapse of the coalition.
While the country was beginning to experience the menace of the global pandemic the ruling elite choose to abide by Trump’s absurd diplomatic wishes, only so to be able to go further with “business as usual”. In the eyes of the people of Kosova, this rendered the then government politically illegitimate. By contrast, Kurti’s and the LVV’s stance were seen as a stance against mere spectatorship.
Fundamentally, the party won its popularity with its consistent left-wing political programme. Among other social-democratic reforms, LVV plans to dissolve the Privatization Agency and create e Sovereign Fund which would manage all the state and public owned enterprises. LVV has also proposed to expand social welfare services by extending financial support to single mothers and the elderly, establishing maternity and paternity leave guarantees, guaranteeing free tuition for college students, etc.
The party’s remarkable success in these elections is hence the result of its consistent and uncompromised struggle for a social state and self-determination.
Its success in these elections can be also attributed to an overwhelming support by women voters. It is worth mentioning that 61 % of women voted for the party in comparison to 47 % of men. As Besnik Pula has carefully observed, this change in women’s voting marks a social change within the political change. According to Pula, traditionally, voting in Kosovo has followed familial lines; multi-generational households voted for the same party. In this election, however, women massively abandoned other parties in support for LVV.
Although socio-economic issues have undoubtedly taken precedence in voters’ minds, the new government will be in a difficult position to focus solely on these fundamental matters. For even with Trump gone, the international community will insist on the implementation of its technical agenda concerning the dialogue between Kosova and Serbia.
There has been too much dialogue between Kosova and Serbia and too many reports about it. Yet not many commentators have tried to grasp that what is fundamentally wrong with the nature of the dialogue with Serbia: that there is nothing that Serbia should negotiate with a country that has declared independence and has been recognised as such by over one hundred UN member states. For instance, accepting Serbia’s demand to establish another layer of executive power through the Association of the Serbian Municipalities would divide the country along ethnic lines and would violate Kosova’s constitution.
LVV’s uncompromised resistance to orders that go against the country’s sovereignty goes hand in hand with its progressive socio-economic agenda. Although for the people of Kosova the dialogue between Kosova and Serbia is far away from being a priority, they may still find objectionable the way in which dominant international actors seek to impose on Kosova a technocratic agenda, one which renders the political agency of the state and its institutions illegitimate, and any political representation pointless.
LVV wants to end the endless dialogue (that is neither helpful for Kosova or Serbia). The technical dialogue is in the way of any principled dialogue based on shared premises. On the other hand, throughout the campaign, LVV has shown that its priority remains the dialogue with the Kosovo Serbs and other national minorities on social and economic issues. There is no doubt that only through a will for collective political change can the difficult journey for a radical transformation of the economic and political structures of the country begin.
Since 1999, burdened with challenges of state-building and a reckless process of economic destruction, Kosova’s trajectory has been that of an ongoing collapse. A LVV government can change that, by laying the groundwork for a new political and economic reality in Kosova. It is however too early to see if it will succeed. We can however see that the LVV’s attempt for a social state, an attempt in curbing the reckless nature of Capital that has no regard for the health or length of the life of the working class.
Serafina Bytyqi is a history student at the University of Vienna. Her primary research fields are intellectual history and socio-economic history. Within those disciplines, her research has focused on the question of capitalism and labour, the history of socialism and Marxism.