On 14-15 February, Serbs living in four municipalities of northern Kosovo voted in a referendum and overwhelmingly rejected the authority of the Republic of Kosovo. Even the referendum question seemed to indicate the direction in which the vote would go: ‘Do you accept the institutions of the so-called Republic of Kosovo?’ Some 35,500 people living in the four Kosovo municipalities were eligible to vote and, according to preliminary results, around 75% of them cast their ballots, with 99.74% circling ‘No’.
Referendum organisers explained that the lower-than-expected turnout was due to extremely bad weather and the impossibility of opening some of the ballot booth. The result, nevertheless, was resounding. Representatives of the international community and government in Pristina were opposed to the referendum, underlining its non-binding nature. Authorities in Belgrade were also against it, claiming that it would worsen the position of Serbia in the international community and deteriorate Serbs’ status in Kosovo.