Kosovo's leading party is expected have its majority trimmed in a re-run of disputed votes in five electoral districts. The outcome could hinder the formation of a coalition government for Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.
Many results from the December election were annulled
The party of Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci appears to have had its lead trimmed in re-run of elections in five districts.
Polling stations closed shortly after 7 p.m. local time on Sunday in voting areas where electoral authorities had annulled December election results and called either full or partial re-runs.
This had followed suspiciously high turnouts of up to 90 percent in strongholds of Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), which gained 33.5 percent of the national vote at the time. Turnout on Sunday appeared to have been significantly lower than in December.
But while the PDK lost votes in the latest election, a party official told news agency Reuters that this was also true of other parties.
"We have lost around 20,000 votes in the national level but we don't expect this to be more than 1 percent because we are not the only losers - other parties have also lost a lot of votes," the official said on Sunday evening.
More than 100,000 people were eligible to vote at some 185 polling stations, with about 100 international and local observers' teams monitoring events.
Impact on coalition negotiations
Thaci now faces some difficulty in formaing an effective coalition
Analysts had already predicted that the result of the re-runs would do little to affect the overall outcome of the elections. However, they could make it more difficult for Thaci and the PDK to form a new coalition government.
The three next largest parties, including former coalition partners the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) - which gained 23.6 percent in the previous election - have said they will not govern with Thaci.
The political uncertainty left by the December elections has delayed the start of talks with Serbia, from which Kosovo declared independence in 2008. Belgrade does not recognize Kosovo as a state but has agreed to begin discussions on practical issues such as cross-border trade.
The PDK's support did not appear to have been severely dented by the release of a report published days after the December vote by Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty.
The report alleged that, as a leader in Kosovo's 1990s independence conflict with Serbia, Thaci had headed an organized crime ring - allegations that the prime minister denies.
Author: Richard Connor (AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler