From a Social Movement to a Majority Political Party

Nowadays, Vetevendosje is the leading party in the Republic of Kosovo, where they won 50% of the votes in this year’s elections. The “Levizja Vetevendosje” party was not always a political party. For many years, in fact, LVV did not make its “debut” in politics but was only seen as an activist movement that fought for change and many other issues that were present in the Republic of Kosovo.

Originally, “LVV” started off as a movement and its name was not Vetevendosje. “Kosova Action Network” was its original name, and it started by promoting active citizenry, trying to get people involved, and keeping them interested in the political scene in Kosovo. KAN was first founded in 1997 by a small group of different international activists, where it supported students in protesting against the occupation of the campus of the University of Prishtina by the Yugoslav Police Forces. Later, during the Kosovo war in 1999, KAN worked towards documenting the war crimes that were orchestrated by the Serbian Paramilitary and the President of Serbia at that time, Slobodan Milosevic. In the year 2000, after the war, they also campaigned for the release of Albanian war prisoners. 

After the war, the United Nation formed its administration in Kosovo, with the name ‘United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo’ – UNMIK. Its goal was to maintain peace in Kosovo and help with regional stability between the Balkans and Kosovo. On the 10th of June 2004, 1000 KAN activists marched a protest against UNMIK, calling it undemocratic, and also accused UNMIK of being a criminal organization. KAN also stated that UNMIK was an occupier that was denying Kosovo from being an independent sovereign state. 

It’s the year 2005, KAN activists started using the slogan ‘JO NEGOCIATA – VETEVENDOSJE’, which translates to ‘No Negotiations – Self-Determination’. This is when the activist movement’s name changed to ‘Vetevendosje’. That year, they started distributing copies of UN Resolution 1514 in front of the UNMIK headquarters in Prishtina. This resolution grants independence to colonial countries and peoples. This showed that UNMIK was denying the independence of Kosovo. Vetevendosje also spray-painted UNMIK cars and wrote their spray-painted slogan on walls throughout Kosovo.    

Before Vetevendosje entered the big political scene, it was a huge movement with lots of activists, in fact, in some way it became international. Kosovar diaspora throughout the whole of Europe was engaging, not only in Europe but also in the United States. Kosovar Albanians protested in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York as well, during the visits of several Serbian politicians involving different negotiations, these protests were being carried out in Kosovo as well.  

On the 10th of February 2007, Vetevendosje organized a large demonstration against the Ahtisaari Plan. Where approximately 60,000 people attended, and it took place in the streets of Prishtina. This demonstration quickly escalated, where UNMIK riot police killed 2 people and injured 73 others. Then, on August 25th, 2009, Vetevendosje organized another protest which turned out to be violent, destroying 28 EULEX vehicles, with a minor number of police officers of riot police injured and a wounded rioter.

5th of December 2010, Vetevendosje participated in that year’s national elections, in coalition with the Movement of Unification(LB) and won 12.66% of the votes, with 14 seats at the Assembly of Kosovo. After a while, Vetevendosje broke the coalition with the Movement of Unification and was only left with 12 seats at the Assembly of Kosovo. In the next elections though, things started to change, they were not just a small harmless opposition party anymore.

The year is 2014, new elections were taking place in the beloved Republic of Kosovo, Vetevendosje participated and won 13.59% of the votes. With 16 seats in the Assembly of Kosovo, Vetevendosje became the leading opposition party together with AAK and Nisma. This was a result of a failed coalition between LDK-AAK-NISMA. AAK and NISMA parties parted their ways with LDK, resulting in LDK making a coalition with PDK. This led to Vetevendosje, AAK, and NISMA being in the opposition, with Vetevendosje as the leader. During this governing era, the opposition was quite aggressive, where they combated the Border Demarcation between Kosovo and Montenegro. Things escalated when Vetevendosje started to stop assembly seances by throwing tear gas in the Assembly of Kosovo. People were also opposing the demarcation with frequent protests in the capital, Prishtina.

Vetevendosje was gaining more and more support from the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo each year, this was shown in the 2017 elections, where Vetevendosje became the largest political party winning 27,49% of the votes and clenching 32 seats in the Assembly of Kosovo. Even though they were the largest individually, they were not the strongest yet. The PANA coalition was the strongest and the one that governed the Republic of Kosovo. Next year, in 2018, 12 MPs left Vetevendosje and decided to be a group of independent deputies, which would then go on to join PSD. Donika Kadaj-Bujupi also switched parties and joined AAK. This was a huge loss for Vetevendosje, leaving them with only 19 seats at the assembly. 

In late 2019, the Prime Minister at the time Ramush Haradinaj resigned from his post as Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo. Elections came and Vetevendosje received 26.27% of the votes with 29 seats in the Assembly of Kosovo, and again, the largest political party in the Republic of Kosovo. After months of negotiation for creating a coalition with LDK, they finally reached an agreement where the Head of Vetevendosje, Albin Kurti took upon himself the role of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo. Unfortunately, this coalition and the new government did not last long. Covid-19 arrived in Kosovo and the people were alarmed. Minister of Internal Affairs Agim Veliu, made some comments on a decision proposal made by the President of the Republic of Kosovo at the time Hashim Thaçi, for declaring a state of emergency in Kosovo. Due to the not-so-friendly history between Thaçi and Kurti, Kurti sacked Agim Veliu off his position as Minister of Internal Affairs using Veliu’s comments as an excuse. 

As a result, LDK broke off the coalition and filed for a motion of no confidence against Vetevendosje and the Kurti government. The opposition, of course, was not hesitant to overthrow the Kurti government and did so when the motion of no confidence was passed in the Assembly of Kosovo. Until the next election, Vetevendosje became an opposition and helpless with LDK bound to form a new government and govern the Republic of Kosovo, although not quite.

In December 2020, the LDK led government coalition with AAK, NISMA, the Serb List, and some other minority parties was deemed illegal by the Constitutional Court. This was due to one Member of the Parliament from LDK’s coalition group who voted for the new government, was convicted for corruption. The Constitutional Court stated that his vote is not valid and LDK could not round up 61 votes to form the government without him. This led to new elections in 2021. Vetevendosje ran with Vjosa Osmani to become President and Albin Kurti as Prime Minister. Due to Kurti’s conviction for throwing tear gas in the parliament years earlier, he could not run for a seat in the Assembly of Kosovo, but he could run for Prime Minister. This year, a huge chunk of the votes went to Vetevendosje, receiving 50.28% of the votes. This won them 58 seats in the assembly, becoming the majority party.

Albin Kurti is the current Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo and the government has been formed, with Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, elected President on the 4th of April. Although the voting of the President was quite a long and stressful process since some parties boycotted the presidential election with not taking part in it, and also the first round failed since 80 MPs are required to vote and 3 out of 82 MPs who were in the Assembly of Kosovo that day did not vote. In the second round of the voting process for electing the president, Albin Kurti was able to convince 2 more MPs to take part in the voting of the president, those MPs being Adem Hoxha from a minority party and a surprise new member who switched parties from PDK to Vetevendosje, Adelina Grainca. With 71 votes pro, Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu was able to secure her post as President of the Republic of Kosovo and gave a heartwarming speech about the importance and responsibility of her new duty, also supporting women across Kosovo and telling them to not give up on whomever they want to be, and whatever they want to achieve out of life. 

The citizens of the Republic of Kosovo have put their faith in Kurti’s government. No government has been able to respectfully deliver a successful four-year mandate since the formation of the young country, Kosovo. Kurti’s charismatic figure and his decisions as a politician brought him to where he is today, he made strong statements and promises that include: fixing relations with other countries, fighting corruption, continue working towards the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia and create more jobs for the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo. It is with hope, that people have, that Kurti delivers on his promises and proves to everyone that he is not just some demagogue, but truly a unification figure for Albanians all around. Together, with Madam President Vjosa Osmani, they have much work to do, all of Kosovo’s eyes are directed towards both of them shining with hope and aspiration.

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