Voters in Kosovo are heading to the polls for the second round of local elections that are seen as another step in the young republic’s effort to solidify its democratic credentials. The November 19 runoffs are taking place in half of the country’s 38 municipalities – including in the capital, Pristina — where mayors and councilors were not elected in the first round last month. People are also voting in the Serb-majority municipality of Partes, where the Central Election Commission (CEC) annulled the results of the first round following vote manipulations. After casting her ballot in Pristina, CEC chief Valdete Daka urged all registered voters to go to the polls.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Kosovo.
Kosovo’s failure to establish a government two months after an election is stalling its bids for greater international recognition and blocking funds for the poverty-stricken country. A coalition led by President Hashim Thaci’s PDK party — itself in power since 2007 — topped early parliamentary polls held on June 11, but the alliance did not win the absolute majority needed to govern alone. Made up of the old guard of ex-guerrilla fighters, the coalition can only form a government after nominating and winning support for a parliamentary speaker. But so far the coalition has boycotted assembly sessions and a vote for speaker because it needs the backing of more deputies. “The ruling political class doesn’t want to give up power,” said Agron Bajrami, editor of the Koha Ditore newspaper.
Lawmakers in Kosovo’s new parliament have failed again to vote on a speaker to move forward with the formation of a new government, continuing a two-month-long political crisis sparked by inconclusive elections. The Kosovo Assembly failed to establish a quorum of 61 deputies in the hall on August 14, prompting interim speaker Adem Mikullovci to end the session. He said he would notify parties in the legislature in writing of the next scheduled meeting of the house. The failure for a fifth time to vote on a speaker, the first crucial step toward forming a new government, has raised worries that Kosovo could be headed for a political crisis and fresh elections.
The coalition of former ethnic Albanian rebel commanders won the most votes Sunday in Kosovo’s general election, which also saw a surge in popularity for a nationalist party, according to preliminary results. The ex-rebels came in first with around 35 percent of the vote. The nationalist Self-Determination Movement was neck-and-neck with the coalition led by former Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, which had around 26 percent each after the counting of about 70 percent of the votes, according to Democracy in Action, a monitoring group. No group can govern alone and coalitions will be likely.
A coalition led by the ruling centre-right Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) came first in Kosovo’s snap parliamentary election on Sunday, but it will have to find a coalition partner to form a stable government, results based on a partial vote count showed. With 70 percent of votes counted, the PDK-led coalition had 34.3 percent of votes, the opposition Vetevendosje (VV) party 26.3 percent, and a coalition led by the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) 25.8 percent, the Democracy in Action non-governmental organization said About 1.9 million Kosovars, nearly half a million of whom live abroad, were registered to vote in the third election since Kosovo declared independence in 2008.
Kosovars vote on Sunday to choose the new 120-seat parliament that will face some seemingly intractable problems. There is the thorny issue of the border demarcation deal with Montenegro that brought down the previous government; the continuation of fraught talks with Serbia, which denies Kosovo’s existence as a state; and potential war crimes trials of some senior political leaders. Nineteen political parties, five coalitions and two citizens’ initiatives, all promising to break the isolation and secure growth, have nominated candidates.
Opposition politicians in Kosovo have reiterated their demand for early elections as the only solution to the political crisis – while government MPs insist the answer is further dialogue. Opposition politicians in Kosovo have repeated their demand for early elections, saying this alone will solve the country’s acute political crisis. Rexhep Selimi, an MP from the opposition Vetevendosje [Self-Determination] movement, said the government had lost its legitimity and even its legality. “Elections are necessary and inevitable,” he told BIRN, adding that early elections should be considered a healthy option for society.
The ruling party of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has declared victory in Kosovo’s parliamentary elections in which the Serbian minority is taking part for the first time since the territory broke away from neighbouring Serbia. An exit poll conducted by the Gani Bobi social research institute put Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) on 33 percent, just ahead of the opposition Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) on 30 percent. Thaci is likely to form a coalition government with smaller parties and ethnic Serbs to secure a third four-year term at the helm of the young Balkan country.
Hashim Thaci’s “thumbs-up” gesture has become his trademark in election campaigns since he helped lead the guerrilla insurgency to throw off Serbian rule over Kosovo 15 years ago. The thumbs were on show again this week in the western town of Gjakova, where 46-year-old Thaci was on the campaign trail ahead of an election on Sunday he hopes will give him a third term as prime minister. The show of confidence, however, belies the pressure on Thaci from political rivals and a war crimes investigation that threatens to ensnare former comrades-in-arms and even his closest allies.
Minority Serbs in a tense northern Kosovo city cast ballots under tight security on Sunday, redoing a vote that was derailed when masked men attacked staff and destroyed voting materials. Special police units in bulletproof vests backed by members of the European Union police and justice mission and armed NATO peacekeepers stood outside polling stations to prevent a repeat of the electoral violence that stopped the Nov. 3 poll in ethnically divided Mitrovica. The incident was blamed on hardline Serbs who fear the vote endorses Kosovo’s 2008 secession from Serbia. Kosovo authorities said Sunday that voter turnout to elect a mayor of the Serb-run part of the city and members of the local council was 22 percent.