The 'big ones' against democracy


SUN, 31 JUL 2000

Pristina, July 12, 2000 - OUN administrator for Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, reached a decision to apply the proportional system in municipal elections in Kosovo, with open lists on which there should be at least 30 per cent of women. The councilmen will be elected for two years. Although they did not approve of this system of voting, all political parties, along with groups and independent individuals, had declared that they would participate in the elections regardless of this disapproval. After numerous public appearances in favour of one or the other system of voting which were burdened by unnecessary nervousness, one can expect lowering of tensions concerning this issue and raising of temperature concerning other aspects of the pre-election competition. In the first debates already, minor parties were inclined towards the proportional system which ensures balance between the percentage of votes and the number of elected candidates. Only two out of 28 parties in Kosovo (one of them is a coalition of six parties), Democratic League of Kosovo (DSK) and Democratic Party of Kosovo (DPK), declared that they were in favour of the majority system or some kind of a combined system which favours big parties and eliminates small ones, although the former also publicly stated on several occasions that it had nothing against the proportional system either.

Although the debate before Kouchner reached his decision had been short, it brought out in the open many interesting things concerning relations among the protagonists on Kosovo Albanian political scene. The first impression is that every kinship and friendship, maybe even animosity has been abolished, and new political regrouping can be expected to take place. The debate is over, but the process of regrouping which it has initiated does not seem to be completed yet. Small parties, including the ones close to DSK and war partners of DPK this time have not taken into consideration the demands of the big ones. On the other hand, for the first time since they exist in this or other forms, DSK and DPK are together on the same side and with a common stand.

It is very important for a favourable course of the process in Kosovo that the “big” ones at least occasionally find themselves together, meaning that they cooperate. However, this should not be considered to be an example of that. Indeed it could rather be taken as a negative example. Their regrouping on one side opposite all the other parties which are considered to be small clearly reflects monopolistic tendency which does not lead to establishment of democratic relations. Two big parties have at one moment been united only by their interest in the struggle for power. The same interest has removed allies of DSK away from it and former war partners disassociated themselves from DPK. In this way it became clear that when marching towards its majesty the Power, principles fall, friendship and kinship disappear, and even old animosities are forgotten. Such ambitions and behavior are not some special novelty on the political scene of Kosovo Albanians. The activities of parties have so far also been aimed at struggle for power. But in this case, things are exposed and they have become obvious even for those who tend to believe in political idols and high causes. Of course, illusions will not easily be dispersed. However, this process will probably proceed more quickly than expected. The exposed merciless struggle for power will soon awaken people from their dreams they are dreaming with their eyes open and this should motivate or even force them to begin using their own heads when political views and proclamations are concerned. Once this process begins, one will be able to say that the citizens of Kosovo have started on their way towards political maturity and creating the first elements of their democratic tradition.

As concerning the system of voting there was absolutely no reason for representatives of the Albanians to speak vehement about it. Neither the proportional nor the majority system is all good or all bad. This does not eliminate a debate about advantages and disadvantages of one or the other, but it may yield results only when speaking of specific circumstances. In this case it concerns Kosovo where first free municipal elections will be held for the first time in October. In the debate for and against in which alleged experts even with high academic titles also took part, many explanations, even technical ones, did not sound serious. As for comparisons With America and Great Britain where voting takes place according to a purely majority model, or some other developed country where the proportional system is mostly predominant, one would be very mild to say that they were frivolous.

The proportional system was criticised because it allegedly brings results which will not enable decision-making concerning certain issues, because it does not guarantee efficiency in exercising power and because for these reasons it will enable international representatives to continue decision-making as so far even after the elections. It was a big confusion, neither convincing nor clarifying, which could have been the result of ignorance. However, motives of political propaganda should not be eliminated. Why elected deputies should not make decisions? They shrinked from saying clearly that in municipal assemblies there would be elected representatives of many subjects and that they would have difficulties in reaching an agreement on formation of the necessary majority for exercising power. It is, therefore, clear that the problem is not in the proportional system, but in political parties or more precisely in their blind political egoism which has monopoly and elimination of others from power as its starting point. That is why they cannot see that cooperation is possible, even necessary, for establishment of tolerant relations and formation of democratic institutions.

If political groups cannot reach an agreement as they have not done so far, about the system and fundamental issues for the country and the people, they clearly prove that they are not capable of leading the country, the people, and of course a state. That is why the tutelage over the Albanians in Kosovo is the best and the most useful option. >From this point of view Kosovo was very lucky that resolution of the questions of its general backwardness started through the international administration. And what would have happened had Serbia been the tutor? Whether representatives of international community will be decision-makers in more or less cases will mostly depend on the decision of international administration itself. The Albanians and other citizen citizens of Kosovo can speed up the process of transfer of power into the hands of local representatives. But they first need to learn to cooperate, to be tolerant to each other and to others. Cooperation and tolerance are proved best in an ambience where there are numerous political subjects. Without learning this lesson Kosovar parties shall not be permitted to fully exercise power. That is the reason why for the current circumstances in Kosovo the proportional election system should be the most convenient system of voting. Besides, it should be kept in mind that local authorities are to be elected here and that is where numerous specific interests are revealed. They can be expressed through various organisations of citizens, too, not just parties, concerning certain issues. It is quite clear that it would be more democratic if all these interests would be represented in local authorities. In present circumstances, not only on the municipal level, the majority election system would not enable establishment of authorities according to the will of the majority, but according to the dictate of the biggest ones, which would not contribute to promotion of democratic processes.

Original article