Kosovo center-right coalition set to win snap general election

DAILY SABAH WITH DPA
ISTANBUL
Published

Kosovo's nationalists dominated snap parliamentary polls at the weekend but on Monday faced a nearly impossible task of building a government amid mutual animosities.

The state election commission put the turnout at 41.5 percent, the lowest since 2008, with many Kosovars frustrated over the lack of economic progress and a deep level of corruption. In 2010 and 2014, it was 48 and 43 percent, respectively.

The coalition led by President Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party (PDK) won 34.7 percent of the vote, election authorities said after counting 91 percent of the ballots cast in Sunday's election.

The center-right PDK group is expected to nominate former premier and rebel commander Ramush Haradinaj, the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), as the new prime minister.

"Voters showed they trust our coalition," Haradinaj told a news conference.

But Haradinaj will need an ally, and neither of the other two big political groups seem likely to form a coalition with him.

The Vetevendosje party won 26.7 percent, ahead of the bloc of outgoing Prime Minister Isa Mustafa's Democratic League (LDK) with 25.8 per cent.

Vetevendosje is the most radical Kosovo party and is at war with the PDK and LDK, opposing every motion they put forward over the past three years. It has launched protests and tear gas attacks inside parliament and accuses rivals of corruption.

It also appears improbable that the LDK will rejoin Thaci after his PDK toppled Mustafa in April by pulling out of a coalition and forcing elections a year early.

Final results for the new 120-seat parliament are expected later in the week. Twenty seats in parliament are reserved for ethnic Serbs and other minorities.

Kosovo is a former Serbian province with nearly 1.8 million people, over 90 percent of whom were Kosovar Albanians. Kosovar Serbs are the country's biggest ethnic minority with a population numbering around 100,000.

It declared independence on February 17, 2008, and is recognized by over 100 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany and Turkey. Serbia, Russia and China are among countries that have not yet recognized Kosovo's independence.

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