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Published at: Koha ditore  
Date : 20-01-2015  

MPs responsibility for a representative Election System

The new government has many obligations both in the national and international sphere, out of which a vast number must undergo the Assembly approval. In any case, one of the top priorities of this Assembly should be the electoral system reform in order to make it as more representative as possible. Kosovo needs a substantial electoral reform, initiated from the local institutions. It should be comprehensive with an aim to protect the electoral integrity and to provide adequate representation of the citizens.

There were several initiatives to improve the electoral system in Kosovo. Such initiatives came in different times and based on various reasons. The first initiative was in 2004 with an initiative from civil society, Reforma 2004, which aimed to establish election districts that would robust connections between MPs and citizens. This issue was brought again on the table after 2010 elections where as a consequence of a huge election fraud, a thorough election reform was promised.  Despite the hard work, financial expenses and the support from the international community, the electoral reform was never completed. In contrary, very often the changes brought confusion to citizens (e.g. change of the preferential votes within political entity from ten to five or one candidate, one vote for local elections etc.).

It is obvious that the electoral reform in Kosovo has failed due to the lack of political will of the party leaders and their closed cliques.  The process was kept pending from these political leaders only because they were not sure which alternative would best suit their personal interests.

Naturally, the two major political parties in the country are to blame the most for the failure of the electoral reform as the first had the means to push forward the process. This is due to the first being the bigger party and running the government while the latter in certain moments had the opportunity to condition their support for important processes while being in opposition with the completion of the reform.

However, this is not the time to deal with who failed the reform in the past. It is evident that the electoral process is not building strong  relations with their constituents, which in turn makes them less accountable and with lack of meaningful representativeness. Thus, the efforts for electoral reform must continue in order to make the electoral system more representative. Now we should think of and undertake concrete steps to make it happen and not to wait for the last moment,.

This time around, the initiative for the electoral system reform should come from the Kosovo Assembly members themselves and not to wait for the Government to bring before them the law on elections for amendments. Because, if they wait for the Government to initiate it, the electoral reform of course will not be a priority and it will hardly happen. Civil Society has provided many options and alternatives that may serve as the basis of initiating this discussion.

Due to the importance of electoral reform, the Assembly should establish an ad hoc committee especially dealing with this issue, which should be lead by the opposition. It is of vital importance for the electoral reform to be as comprehensive and transparent as possible. Civil society, media, experts and other relevant institutions should be involved in the electoral process. And with comprehensiveness is not meant only the physical participation of these actors but also their recommendations being taken into account. The support of international organizations should be welcomed in such a process but not to the extent of the whole process being managed by them as it has happened in the past.

All preconditions for a meaningful reform are in place. There is enough time and one of the parties of the ruling coalition has been in the opposition just recently and knows very well the importance of the electoral reform. Thus, this political party, knowing how difficult it is to push for the reform while being in opposition must itself push for reform now while being in position or at least to create conditions for the reform to take place. Furthermore, the current composition of the Assembly, has some members that used to be part of civil society and were very vocal in their requests for electoral reform. Now, they will have more decision-making powers and it is expected from them to be very active in this matter. Hence, civil society should play a major role in the process and provide options and recommendations on different matters related to the electoral reform.

For the electoral reform to happen, members of the parliament and other actors must be brave and dedicated. At least in the beginnings of this legislature, a new tendency of not blindly following the party lines has been noted which is an opportunity that should be used for the electoral reform as well. Someone must take the initiative and open up the issues of the electoral reform in the Assembly and if the matter is ignored then it has be brought up continuously. This Assembly, if not for anything else, at least has the opportunity to leave a legacy of being remembered as the one that completed a meaningful electoral reform. 

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