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.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Kosovo.
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.
The municipal elections in Kosovo on were not really local, and come down to two very different stories depending on whether one looks at the Serb-held northern region or the rest of the country. These were not ordinary elections: they were meant to mark a peaceful transfer of power over northern Kosovo, from Serbia to the Kosovo government in Pristina. Their failure is a serious warning sign. The municipal elections in Kosovo on 3 November were not really local, and come down to two very different stories depending on whether one looks at the Serb-held northern region or the rest of the country. In the government-controlled south, Election Day was inspirational as all communities turned out heavily and peacefully. North of the Ibar river, the elections were tragic, with hubris and assorted other flaws leading to a day ending in violence and confusion. These were not ordinary elections: they were meant to mark a peaceful transfer of power over northern Kosovo, from Serbia to the Kosovo government in Pristina. Their failure is a serious warning sign.
Masked men storming polling stations during Kosovo’s local elections, on November 3rd, was the image that captured the interest of the international media. But as Petrit Selimi, the country’s deputy foreign minister, says, events in three polling stations “don’t make an election, they make good visuals for TV.” The polling stations, in the divided city of Mitrovica, were important, but Mr Selimi has a point. Overall, Kosovo’s poll was remarkable for being so smooth and uneventful. Kosovo’s general election, in 2010, was tainted by accusations of “industrial-scale” fraud. This time no one has made any significant complaints. The turnout was also far higher than for local elections in most of the rest of Europe.
Roberto Gualtieri said on Tuesday that the vote count for polling stations in the four municipalities in northern Kosovo and Metohija has not begun yet. Gualtieri is chief observer of the EU Election Observation Mission. The election materials are in Priština, and our job is to monitor and analyze the process. In relation to that, the Central Electoral Commission should assess the situation and deliver a decision, Gualtieri said at a press conference. The EU Election Observation Mission condemns the attacks on the three polling stations in northern Kosovska Mitrovica, Gualtieri said, underlining that the attempts at sabotage failed. The EU mission assessed positively the electoral process in Kosovo, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) offered key assistance to the process, despite great challenges, he said.
“Voting material from three election centres in Mitrovica was totally unusable and the central election commission decided to annul and repeat the vote there,” commission member Nenad Rikalo said. The date for the repeat vote will be announced later, he told Serbian state television RTS. Electoral committee members prepare for voting in the municipal elections at a polling station in the ethnically divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica, Kosovo, 03 November 2013. Voting was cut short Sunday in Mitrovica when masked Serb extremists attacked officials and smashed ballot boxes. Other violations, such as intimidation of voters, also marred the day.
Violence that forced voting stations to close early on Sunday in the Serbian-dominated city of north Mitrovica and led to the destruction of ballots is likely to prompt Kosovo authorities to order a rerun of elections there, officials said on Monday. While violence was a blow to European Union-brokered peace efforts between Serbia and Kosovo, regional and European officials stressed that elections went smoothly in the rest of the country and there was significant turnout of ethnic Serbs in southern Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians dominate. On Tuesday, the EU’s election mission will issue its preliminary verdict on the conduct of Sunday’s elections. Decisions on whether and how to boost security in the north in coming weeks are still being considered, officials said.
Hard-line Serbs in northern Kosovo intimidated would-be voters and were suspected of attacking a polling station during local elections Sunday. The actions underscored Kosovo’s strained relations with Serbia, even as both states seek closer ties to the European Union. It was the first time voters in all of Kosovo were choosing local councilors and mayors since the country seceded from Serbia in 2008. The participation in the election of minority Serbs in Kosovo was being watched carefully. The integration of Serbs into Kosovar political life is a key element of an EU-brokered deal between Serbia and Kosovo that seeks to settle their disputes and unlock EU funds. The Serb hard-liners’ tactics, however, appeared to suppress voter turnout and raised concerns that Serbia had not fulfilled its pledge to stop fueling defiance among Serbs in Kosovo, especially in the north, where they dominate the population.