Leftist-nationalists edge ahead after Kosovo vote | News | DW | 07.10.2019
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Leftist-nationalists edge ahead after Kosovo vote

The ruling alliance in Kosovo has lost the election. With almost all of the results in, leftist-nationalist Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) just ahead of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) snatched 26% of the vote at Sunday's parliamentary election, in Kosovo, barely edging out another opposition party, the LDK, which claimed around 25%.

The results are based on 96% of ballots cast.

The two opposition parties are followed by the PDK (Democratic Party of Kosovo) which is part of the ruling coalition and associated with President Hashim Thaci. The PDK won some 21% of the votes.

The alliance coalition led by former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj (AAK-PSD) placed fourth with around 12% of support.

Read more: NATO countries urge Serbia and Kosovo to ease tensions

Guerilla leaders on their way out

Only the top-ranking party can be entrusted with forming the government, according to a decision by the country's constitutional court. Therefore, the minimum difference between the center-left Vetevendosje and center-right LDK is crucial for the future cabinet.

Albin Kurti casting his vote (picture-alliance/dpa/V. Kryeziu)

The leader of leftist and nationalist Vetevendosje, Albin Kurti, hailed the poll as 'historic'

With results giving Vetevendosje the advantage, party leader Albin Kurti said he would attempt to form a coalition with the runner-up party.

"Tonight I will not knock on the LDK door but I will do the first thing tomorrow," Kurti told T7 television late on Sunday. "We don't have time to lose."

In turn, LDK leader Vjosa Osmani noted that Vetevendosje's lead over her party is still narrow and that the winner can only be declared once all the ballots are counted. 

Vjosa Osmani speaks to reporters (Reuters/F. Goga)

Vjosa Osmani, the leader of LDK, hopes to be Kosovo's first female prime minister

If the LDK manages to close the gap and be declared the winner, 37-year-old university law professor Osmani might end up as the country's first-ever female prime minister.

Regardless of the outcome, however, the Sunday polls would be the first to oust the former guerilla commanders who dominated the scene for two decades. Both President Thaci and outgoing Prime Minister Haradinaj fought against Serbian forces in Kosovo's 1999 independence war.

Initially, Thaci's PDK party claimed to be in the lead according to its own results, but later admitted defeat.

"We worked hard to win this election, but we failed," said PDK leader Kadri Veseli.

"The people have spoken," he added.

Serb List to claim all reserved seats

Voters went to the polls on Sunday amid calls for the Balkan country's politicians to resume dialogue with Serbia aimed at normalizing ties.

Haradinaj's government re-inflamed tensions with Belgrade by introducing 100% tariffs on imports from Serbia last year. The move comes as apparent retaliation to Serbia's diplomatic campaign to keep Kosovo out of key international institutions. The Kosovo prime minister stuck with the move despite pressure from Kosovo's main ally, the US, and criticism from the EU.

With the exception of Haradinaj, however, other key parties signaled they were ready to consider dropping the increase.

The snap vote came after  Haradinaj resigned in July following a request from a Hague-based international tribunal to question him over crimes against ethnic Serbs during and after the war.

Read more: Kosovo lawmakers dissolve parliament, open way to election

One hundred of the 120 seats in parliament were up for grabs with about 1.9 million people eligible to vote. The remaining 20 parliamentary seats are reserved for ethnic communities, including the restive Kosovo Serbs, who have half of those seats. Virtually all of the Serb seats are expected to be claimed by the Belgrade-backed Serb List party.

Experts said the election is unlikely to produce a stable government, as no single political party is likely to win the vote on its own. It could take days, if not weeks, to forge a coalition.

Watch video 26:00

Ramush Haradinaj on Conflict Zone

jsi, dj, shs/sms (Reuters, dpa, Beta, AP)

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