Kosovo Elections without Conflicts or Mandate
By: Miodrag Stosic
Belgrade, Nov.17, 2009 (Serbia Today) – Yesterday, for the first time since their declaration of independence in 2008, Kosovo held general and local elections. Due to the lack of international compromise on the status of Kosovo it was long under question as to when these elections would take place. Those monitoring the election had expected a low turnout and they were not disappointed.
Election authorities put the overall turn out at 48%, according to the BBC. This turnout is only a marginal improvement on the 40% seen in the last local elections in 2007. There were wide spread complaints of a shortage or polling stations in Serb dominated areas, especially Northern Kosovo.
Nevertheless, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, did his best to celebrate his party’s symbolic victory, and keep the show going.
"I am very pleased to announce... that the Democratic Party of Kosovo is the convincing winner of these elections," the party's deputy chairman, Hajredin Kuci said in a news conference broadcast live by public RTK TV.
It remains to be seen as to whether international observers are expected to announce on Monday if the vote met international standards, and the authorities in Kosovo's can take one more step in their push for wider recognition.
Elections in Kosovo were preceded by a debate in the Serbian political circles as to whether or not Serbs should vote in the former Serbian Southern province that is now an independent state. There was concern that the participation of Serbs in the elections would be indirect recognition of Kosovo's independence. However, Serbian officials called on Kosovo Serbs to vote because the results of the local elections were too important for Serbs living in Kosovo, as this election is their only means of selecting their representatives in the municipalities.
Seventy four electoral lists were reported in the elections, of which thirty four lists came from Albanian parties and the rest from Serbian and others ethnical groups. According to initial assessments, a small number of Kosovo’s citizens voted on the election. There are a million and five hundred thousand registered voters in Kosovo and yet under fifty percent voted on yesterday’s elections.
Serbs won in three of the newly formed municipality, but has lost two in which they are majority - in the municipalities of Strpce and Novo Brdo.