„On the eve of local elections at the North Kosovo there is a prevailing atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, people are frightened and confused, saying that this is the dirtiest campaign ever, and that it is difficult to foresee the post-election period“, was the conclusion of the press conference entitled “Presenting opinions of the citizens of north Kosovo”. The conference was organized by the Forum for Ethnic Relations on 30 October with the aim to present the results of the public survey conducted in north Kosovo on the eve of local elections on 3 November.
The survey was conducted in September of this year, with the financial support from the EU office in Pristina, with the goal to examine citizens’ attitudes towards the Brussels Agreement, and attitudes towards EU, elections, local economic situation, and to identify the main everyday problems of citizens.
The survey was conducted as part of the project “Your life, your decision!” which is implemented by the Forum for Ethnic Relations together with the Center for the development of communities from Kosovska Mitrovica. The aim of the project is to inform the Serbian community in Kosovo and Metohija on local elections and to motivate them to vote in large numbers.
Nenad Đurđević, Coordinator of the Forum for Ethnic Relations said that there is a strong boycott of local elections in north Kosovo, and that people are very scared and confused and uncertain of their future. In addition to fear and uncertainty about their own existence, there is also a great uncertainty concerning the Brussels agreement, political division of the Serbian community, and especially division based on the economic status. Regardless of the division between the Serbs and Albanians, Đurđević said that it is not a prevailing issue in north Kosovo. The main sources of concern are relations between Serbs, which are marked by distrust and conflicts.
“Official campaign is based on the subject of ethnic and nationalistic mobilization, where citizens are invited to unite as Serbs, or is based on the subject of fear of loss of employment. Such messages bring uncertainty and division. In an atmosphere like that, the Serb community will not be able to achieve that which is guaranteed by Kosovo laws and Constitution, and that is to be a strong, credible, and important political option in the parliament”, Đurđević said.
“Although the survey was conducted relatively recently (at the end of September 2013), the fact is that the results would differ had it been conducted today, bearing in mind that during this period the political campaign for voter turnout did not start yet” said the research manager Zoran Gavrilović, who emphasized that the rule of law and institutions have received the lowest rating from citizens. Informal and friendly relations between citizens provide them with that which they cannot get from institutions – security and stability. According to results, 45% of respondents will not vote, 24% is still undecided, 18% said they will vote, while 9.4% admitted they will cross-out the ballot.
According to Gavrilovič’s view, two key factors that will influence voter turnout in the Serbian community are the personal security assessment before the elections, as well as the regularity of elections.
Economist Danilo Šuković also spoke at the conference, who finds the survey valuable because there are no statistical data on which to estimate the real economic situation in Kosovo. Although economic changes are implemented very slowly, Šuković estimates that it would be possible to accelerate them, but the state plays a key role, and must complete the privatization process and create an appropriate social program that will enable the economic existence of Kosovo citizens.