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.
The turnout of only 43 percent appeared to reflect widespread frustration among Kosovo’s 1.8 million people at the lack of progress made since Thaci presided over the territory’s secession from Serbia in 2008.
With average monthly wages of $476, landlocked Kosovo has one of the lowest living standards in Europe, with nearly half the population living in poverty and about 12 percent in extreme poverty.
Unemployment is stuck at 35 percent, rising to 55 percent among the young, according to the Kosovo Statistics Bureau.