News / Europe

PM Thaci's Party Claims Victory in Kosovo Poll

A Kosovo Albanian woman places her ballot paper into a voting box at the polling station in the capital city Pristina, June 8, 2014.
A Kosovo Albanian woman places her ballot paper into a voting box at the polling station in the capital city Pristina, June 8, 2014.
VOA News
The ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo is claiming victory and a likely third term for Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.
 
Early results from Sunday's parliamentary election give the party 31 percent of the vote while the main opposition Democrat League of Kosovo has 25 percent.
 
A non-partisan exit poll also puts Thaci's party in front.
 
The former guerilla fighter is the only leader Kosovo has had since winning independence from Serbia in 2008.
 
He says a successful election will send a message to Europe that Kosovo is a democracy.

"Today is a special day for our country and for the citizens of Kosovo. I congratulate all of Kosovo's citizens. I call upon them to take part in the elections, for the elections to be fair, and to send a message to Europe that we are a democratic country," Thaci said.
 
Challenges ahead

Thaci's popularity soared when the former independence rebel announced a break from Serbia in 2008, but political analyst Nexhmedin Spahiu said it was far from certain he would win re-election since "he has been weakened politically by his failure to address the main challenges in our society," the French news agency AFP reported.
 
Frustration with Kosovo's progress is running high among many of its 1.8 million people, who rank among Europe's poorest.

Landlocked Kosovo has one of the lowest living standards in Europe, with average monthly wages of 350 euros ($476), nearly half the population living in poverty.
 
Unemployment is stuck at 35 percent, rising to 55 percent among the young, according to the Kosovo Statistics Bureau.

Four hours before the polls closed, only 25 percent of eligible voters had cast their ballots, the electoral commission reported. That was nearly 10 percent less compared with 2010 elections turnout at the same time, AFP reported.

However all eyes were on the turnout from the Serb minority in the north, voting for the first time since Kosovo broke away from Serbia, where first reports indicated a
low number of voters at the polling stations.
 
A high turnout from the 120,000-strong Serb community would be seen as a boost to Thaci's dream of joining the 28-nation EU, after last year's historic agreement on improving Kosovo's ties with Belgrade.
 
Although Serbia still rejects Kosovo's independence, it has encouraged Serbs to vote, to strengthen the 2013 deal which allowed it to begin its own EU entry talks.

Voters weigh in

Faik Mustafa voiced optimisms that "these elections would make a change for better".
 
"We had high expectations from independence, but little came true," a 49-year-old driver told AFP after casting his ballot.

However, some voters voiced their displeasure.

“This old class of politician has been around for 15 years and had plenty of time to profit,” said Muhamet Maqastena, a trader in the capital, Pristina. “It's time for them to go and let the young, educated people govern us.”
 
Valbona Bajraktari, a 37-year-old unemployed woman, said her expectations were not high. “The only thing I want is for them not to steal or to hire their aunts,” she told Reuters.
 
Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaci, joined by his wife, Lumnije, casts his ballot at a polling station in the Kosovo capital of Pristina, June 8, 2014. KKosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaci, joined by his wife, Lumnije, casts his ballot at a polling station in the Kosovo capital of Pristina, June 8, 2014. K
x
Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaci, joined by his wife, Lumnije, casts his ballot at a polling station in the Kosovo capital of Pristina, June 8, 2014. K
Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaci, joined by his wife, Lumnije, casts his ballot at a polling station in the Kosovo capital of Pristina, June 8, 2014. K

Fighting back, Thaci's government raised public sector wages, pensions and social welfare benefits two months ago by 25 percent. That directly affects 240,000 teachers, doctors, police officers, pensioners and others, and even more indirectly.
 
Thaci has promised to do the same every year if given a new four-year mandate.
 
“Our state is a new European state, a state that has great opportunities, and I'm committed to making the most of them,” Thaci said after voting in a Pristina school.
 
If he wins a third term, Thaci will come under immediate pressure from the West to heed the findings of a war crimes investigation that threatens to ensnare his former comrades-in-arms.

Within weeks, a special European Union task force is expected to issue the findings of an investigation into allegations that Kosovo's guerrilla army harvested organs from Serb prisoners of war and sold them on the black market during a 1998-99 conflict.
 
The investigation followed a 2011 report by Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty that pointed the finger at Thaci and other ex-rebels, including four senior members of the prime minister's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and candidates for parliament.
 
Thaci has dismissed the allegations as an outrage, a bid to tarnish the Kosovo Albanian fight for freedom that eventually won NATO air support.
 
Fight against Serbia

The West wants a court set up abroad to hear the case because of witness intimidation in Kosovo and a graft-riddled legal system. That will require changes to the law and constitution.
 
Thaci was one of the leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army that took up arms in the late 1990s to break free from the repressive rule of Serbia under strongman Slobodan Milosevic.
 
NATO intervened in 1999 with 78 days of air strikes against Serbia, trying to halt the massacre and mass expulsion of Kosovo Albanians by Serbian forces waging a counter-insurgency.
 
Kosovo declared independence almost a decade later and has been recognized by more than 100 countries, but not Serbia or its big-power backer Russia, which is blocking the young state's accession to the United Nations.
 
Its economy is forecast to grow by at least 3 percent this year, driven by construction and cash sent home by Albanians working abroad. Even that, however, is not enough to absorb the thousands of jobseekers entering the workforce every year in what is Europe's youngest society.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.   

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs