- Title: Kosovo to elect new parliament amid anger over graft, unemployment
- Date: 1st October 2019
- Summary: PRISTINA, KOSOVO (SEPTEMBER 25, 2019) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** DEMOCRATIC LEAGUE OF KOSOVO (LDK) ELECTION RALLY LDK SUPPORTERS WAVING FLAGS IN FRONT OF STAGE, SCREEN SHOWING ELECTION MOTTO
- Embargoed: 15th October 2019 17:15
- Keywords: Kosovo elections Serbia Balkans Kosovo parliamentary elections voting unemployment corruption
- Location: FERIZAJ, PRISTINA, GJILAN AND MITROVICA, KOSOVO
- City: FERIZAJ, PRISTINA, GJILAN AND MITROVICA, KOSOVO
- Country: Kosovo
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA003AZ9NE49
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Voters in Kosovo will pick a new parliament on Sunday (October 6) in a snap election dominated by rampant corruption, sky-high unemployment and poor relations with neighbouring Serbia.
Kosovo has Europe's youngest population, with an average age of 29, and has seen annual economic growth averaging 4% over the past decade.
But it remains very poor and more than 200,000 Kosovars have left and applied for asylum in the European Union since Pristina won its independence from Belgrade in 2008.
The election was triggered by the resignation of Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj in July after he was summoned for questioning by the war crimes prosecutor in The Hague over his role in the 1998-99 insurgency against Serb forces.
Public dissatisfaction with the record of his three-party governing coalition has boosted support for opposition parties, with the centre-right Democratic League for Kosovo (LDK) and the nationalist, left-leaning Vetevendosje vying for first place.
Both LDK's candidate for prime minister Vjosa Osmani and her main rival, Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti, are trying to tap into the public anger over graft.
While Osmani favors free market reforms, Kurti advocates a sovereign fund to rebuild state-owned firms in key sectors.
But both remain opposed to making territorial concessions to Serbia - one option proposed for reviving stalled talks on normalising bilateral relations, required for both countries to join the European Union.
Osmani told Reuters in an interview she considered the idea "dangerous".
Voters are sceptical about politicians' promises in a country where more than a third of people are unemployed and getting a well-paid job usually requires hard cash or political connections.
Twenty-two year-old Lindita Azemi, who earns less than 300 euros a month cooking up hamburgers at a local shop despite having a degree in political science and public administration, said getting a good job involved bribery or having the right contacts.
Sixty-six year-old Ramadan Bibaj said the country's politicians were disconnected from ordinary people and said people would continue to leave the country "if the same politicians will govern Kosovo again".
Opinion polls predict no party gaining enough support to form a government on its own after Sunday's election, and lengthy coalition talks are expected.
(Production: Bardh Krasniqi, Dominik Starosz, Lewis Macdonald)
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