- Title: Kosovo voters flock to opposition parties in parliamentary poll
- Date: 7th October 2019
- Summary: PRISTINA, KOSOVO (OCTOBER 6, 2019) (REUTERS) SUPPORTERS OF VETEVENDOSJE PARTY GATHERING IN STRET AND CELEBRATING, WAVING ALBANIAN FLAGS VARIOUS OF VETEVENDOSJE PARTY SUPPORTERS CELEBRATING AND CHANTING LEADER OF VETEVENDOSJE PARTY AND LIKELY CANIDATE FOR PRIME MINISTER, ALBIN KURTI, ARRIVING TO TALK TO SUPPORTERS VARIOUS OF KURTI GREETING PARTY SUPPORTERS AND TAKING THE PODIUM (SOUNDBITE) (Albanian) LEADER OF VETEVENDOSJE PARTY AND CANDIDATE FOR PRIME MINISTER, ALBIN KURTI, SAYING: "We believe that real democratic change comes when the opposition becomes government. The opposition has won convincingly, and this victory and change was led by the Vetevendosje movement, and me as the new prime minister of the Republic of Kosovo." WIDE OF KURTI HOLDING SPEECH TO SUPPORTERS (SOUNDBITE) (Albanian) LEADER OF VETEVENDOSJE PARTY AND CANDIDATE FOR PRIME MINISTER, ALBIN KURTI, SAYING: "With us in power, there will be no thieves in the government, there will be no thieves in state institutions... In line with the rule of our law, thieves will be fought, investigated, prosecuted, and punished, in our society, wherever they are." PARTY SUPPORTERS IN CROWD (SOUNDBITE) (Albanian) LEADER OF VETEVENDOSJE PARTY AND CANDIDATE FOR PRIME MINISTER, ALBIN KURTI, SAYING: "I want to thank (prime minister candidate of the opposition party LDK) Mrs Vjosa Osmani. During her campaign she inspired many girls and women to engage in public issues, in the economy, politics, and society... Therefore, I would like to cooperate with Vjosa in the future". VARIOUS OF SUPPORTERS APPLAUDING AND CHEERING DEMOCRATIC LEAGUE OF KOSOVO (LDK) OPPOSITION PARTY'S CANDIDATE FOR PRIME MINISTER, VJOSA OSMANI, ARRIVING TO NEWS CONFERENCE AT LDK PARTY HEADQUARTERS (SOUNDBITE) (Albanian) DEMOCRATIC LEAGUE OF KOSOVO (LDK), CANDIDATE FOR PRIME MINISTER, VJOSA OSMANI, SAYING: "For tonight, I believe you agree that the winner cannot be declared yet, as we have to wait until every last vote is counted." LDK LOGO ON WALL
- Embargoed: 21st October 2019 01:46
- Keywords: Polls snap parliamentary election Democratic League for Kosovo Democratic Party of Kosovo United Nations membership
- Location: PRISTINA, KOSOVO
- City: PRISTINA, KOSOVO
- Country: Kosovo
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA001B03K37R
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:The opposition leftist Vetevendosje party was set to come in first in Kosovo's parliamentary poll on Sunday (October 6) - but it will have to negotiate a coalition to form a government.
According to preliminary results based on 82% of the votes counted, Vetevendosje (Self-determination) won 26% of the vote, while another opposition party - the centre-right Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) - won 25% of the vote.
During the campaign, LDK and Vetevendosje leaders, Vjosa Osmani and Albin Kurti, said they would form a ruling coalition together.
But to make it stable they will need either another party to join them, or the support of ethnic minorities - Serbs, Turks, and Bosniaks - who together have 20 seats in the 120-seat parliament.
The election, fourth since Kosovo's declaration of independence in 2008, was called after Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj had resigned in July when he was summoned to appear before a war crimes court.
He has been questioned over his role in the 1998-99 war as one of the commanders of the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which fought for independence from Serbia. Haradinaj denies wrongdoing.
Whoever ends up running Kosovo next will have to face the issue of settling ties with Serbia, from which Kosovo declared independence in 2008.
Normalisation of ties between the two could help secure Pristina a seat in the United Nations.
Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti, who according to Kosovo law is likely to get the mandate to be the country's prime minister, told supporters on Sunday that he would fight corruption and also that he was willing to cooperate with LDK's Osmani to form a coalition government.
Opinion polls before the vote pointed to widespread dissatisfaction with former prime minister Haradinaj's at the helm of a three-party governing coalition.
This helped boost support for the opposition, which campaigned on platforms of tackling what they said is deeply rooted corruption.
The Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), the largest party in the outgoing coalition, came in third with 21% of the votes, and a list led by Haradinaj got 11.5%, preliminary results showed.
Turnout was 44.05% out of some 1.9 million registered voters, and preliminary count did not include votes from the large Kosovar diaspora, which traditionally mostly go to Vetevendosje.
Negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia abruptly stopped a year ago when the outgoing government imposed 100% import tariffs on goods produced in Serbia.
During the campaign, Kurti said his party would abolish the tariffs, but added that they would replace them with other retaliatory measures against Serbia.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Belgrade would talk to elected Kosovo officials once the tariffs are abolished.
The United States and the European Union see tensions between Belgrade and Pristina as a major threat to regional stability and are pushing for a normalization of relations.
On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump appointed Richard Grenell, the straight-talking U.S. ambassador to Germany, as special envoy to try to inject new energy into the talks between Belgrade and Pristina.
Twenty years after NATO bombing expelled Serbian forces, Belgrade refuses to recognize Kosovo as independent and, in concert with its ally Russia, has blocked Pristina's membership in international organizations, including the United Nations.
In 2013, Pristina and Belgrade agreed to an EU-mediated dialog to normalise ties, but little progress has been made.
The election was overseen by more than 34,000 independent monitors, including 100 from the European Union.
No major incidents were reported but police said they detained at least 20 people for photographing their ballots.
(Production: Bardh Krasniqi, David Spaic)
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