Single title

Kosovo's ideological compass

Evolution of party orientation 2014-2020, Values and Populism

During the summer of 2020, D4D conducted a survey of the Kosovo's party officials' opinions, measuring them on 40 different topics, used to assess the ideological orientation of the four main parties in Kosovo.

By categorizing party opinions on over 40 socio-economic topics, this paper has put two main purposes to itself. It aims to help political parties reflect on their stances on various concrete issues, assessing whether they portray internal coherence and a clear stance. If the party shown an internal coherence, then it can also manifest its stance openly, which is usually not a feature of our parties. Likewise, the paper seeks to inform the public and the associations representing citizens with similar interests to assess which of the political parties is closest to their interests. The parties do not seem to show any organized incentive to take clear stances on controversial issues, let alone define their ideology. Due to the successive political crises, even the self-declarations that were previously part of the discourse, have now ceased. Kosovo should wait for another political dynamics, perhaps after the dialogue with Serbia, so that the political leaders can try to turn the ideological label into concrete instructions for the positioning on concrete issues. Even when the orientation debate resumes, it will not depend only on the leadership, but on the real attitudes of influential officials. This study therefore seeks to analyze the views of a wider circle of party officials and activists. Attitudes and their change over time are important to understand the transition and gradual transformation of parties - from being tools of the groups that have established parties to representing a stable base of voters with common interests rather than geographically concentrated ones. A distinct and consistent party profile would also provide effective guidance and contribute to party discipline. In any country with a new democracy, legitimacy stems from leaders, especially when they are their own founders. Yet, over time, some of the leaders die or leave politics, other influential officials change parties, and new leaders, without the political weight of being the founders, fill in the vacuum created. Over the years, even voters who remember the party due the mythicized name of their founder, die and instead, young people reach the age to vote. Young people then have more practical criteria on who they will vote for. Parties benefited from the definition also because transitions from one party to another become rarer. Now an activist passes easily because the connection is with the leader - and an activist is easily demoralized and can personalize the relationship with the leadership. This is one of the reasons why Kosovo has such a polarized politics, as politics becomes personal. An individual who defends, say, individual freedom policies can hardly join a party that does not fit their views. While ideology would strengthen party discipline, consistency of thought could limit the freedom of action of individual leaders and strengthen internal party democracy. Given the gradual evolution of political parties in Kosovo and the many transitions from one party to another, this period is an ideal stage for a more detailed analysis of issues and to create a more accurate picture of the opinion of the most influential people. Our initial hypothesis was that the average ideological coordinates within each party do not differ much from one party to another. Parties are pragmatic so the distribution of individuals fluctuates across the ideological spectrum - so there is no support for any position on specific political issues. When political parties proclaim an ideological denomination or designation, they rather reflect the desire of their higher leaders on how they wish their party to be seen from the outside.