If an election falls in a forest and there is no one there to register…
Right. Rather weak twist on an adage, but perhaps you get the picture.
But if you do not, it would seem that Kosovo’s ethnic Serbs do, and perhaps the Kosovo state does as well, with only 3.5 percent of voters having decided to participate in local elections held in northern Kosovo without the participation of the Srpska Lista/Serbian List party.
Elections were held in four municipalities in northern Kosovo, but lack of participation has been on the cards since local anger came to a head in January and February of this year over plans to force ethnic Serbs to re-register Serbia IDs and car license plate to those of Kosovo, which in the eyes of Serbs would mean the de facto recognition of Kosovo as a state.
While some—including at time Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic—have appeared to see the writing on the wall and understand that normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia will need to take place in order for Serbia to join the EU, hard-core nationalists have stuck to the “Kosovo is Serbia” mantra that also is still echoed (if mutedly) by the Serbian government.
That said, a sticking point has been self-governance and the unwillingness of Kosovo to move forward on a Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM), which was agreed upon during reconciliation talks in 2013/2014. A kind of muddled way forward had been in play for years, with ethnic Serbs manning local institutions and police, but following heightened tensions in February, a walkout was staged by most public officials.
This resulted in what was seen as an immediate attempt by the Kosovo government to rush local elections (in the eyes of Serbs) take local control. While EU (and US) mediated talks put a damper on overt moves, delayed license re-registration and forced both Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti to the table, local resentment did not decrease—in part due to arrests of former ethnic Serb police and heavy-handed tactics of local Kosovo police against ethnic Serbs.
And public officials did not return to work.
This in turn led to the weekend elections and a decision by Srpska Lista to boycott participation in all four municipalities.
Kosovo’s election commission has now indicated that Kurti’s Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) party has won the mayor’s seats in Mitrovica and Leposavic, and the Democratic Party will declare victory in Zvecan and Zubin Poto
This was on the back of voter turnout of just over 1,500 people.
Srpska Lista representative has already questioned whether any party has the right to govern when only 3.5 percent of a population takes part in an election.
Photo of 2022 North Kosovo protests by Voice of America, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.