New Research: Kosovars See Lack of Leadership Opportunities for Women and Youth within Party Leadership, Overlooked Programs in Local Elections

Washington, DC—Public opinion research released today by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research (CISR) examines the perceptions of political parties among Kosovo voters, particularly women and youth. The qualitative research was conducted through twelve focus group discussions (FGDs) with a total of 118 participants, out of which 60 were women and 58 men. The FGDs were held in nine municipalities in Kosovo, specifically Prishtina, Ferizaj, Mamusha, Prizren, Peja, Gjakova Gjilan, and North and South Mitrovica. This research was conducted in March 2022.

Findings of the report indicate that while parties in Kosovo are including a greater number of women and youth in party membership and candidate lists, participants feel these groups are being left out of positions of power within the party structure.  

“Kosovo remains one of Europe’s youngest democracies,” said Paul McCarthy, Regional Director for Europe at IRI. “Inclusivity is very important in political party building and our research shows that more must be done to include women and youth within party leadership.” 

IRI’s focus group discussions also reveal that party programs are overlooked and undervalued in local elections. Participants do not see much difference between party programs. As a result, participants report that citizens do not pay much attention to party programs during local elections and vote for personal or family interests.  

“Parties need to better define election programs to strengthen democracy on a local level in Kosovo,” added McCarthy.  Further, IRI’s research finds that among participants from Kosovo’s ethnic minorities, Kosovo Turks feel fairly represented in political institutions and share concerns with ethnic-majority Kosovo Albanians. In contrast, Kosovo Serb participants not only feel unrepresented in Kosovo’s democratic institutions, but also dissatisfied with Kosovo Serb parties that are supposed to represent them.

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