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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Announce Breakthrough on Nuclear Deal

Deal resolves differences over liability of suppliers to India in event of a nuclear accident, U.S. demands on tracking whereabouts of material supplied to country More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid