Kosovo voted in early parliamentary elections Sunday, called in May when the government lost a confidence vote after the opposition accused it of not fulfilling promises to improve the country’s standard of living.
In line with earlier public opinion polls, an exit poll by Klan Kosovo TV indicated a coalition of three former leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) is in the lead with 40 percent of votes.
The coalition, led by former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, is made up of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) of Kadri Veseli, the Initiative for Kosovo, NISMA, of Fatmir Limaj, and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AKK), Haradinaj. The three party leaders were major wartime figures. All three have been accused of war crimes but found not guilty by The Hague International Tribunal.
Four other coalitions, 19 political parties, and two citizens' initiatives have nominated candidates for the premiership.
The new government will have to deal with a number of thorny issues, such as tense relations with Serbia, joining the European Union, the approval of border demarcation deal with Montenegro — a condition put by Brussels to join the EU's Schengen zone for visa-free travel — endemic corruption and possible war crime indictments for some leaders by a new Hague-based Special Court.
More than 1.8 million Kosovars, of whom nearly half a million live abroad, are registered to vote in the third general election since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
Since then, more than 110 countries, including the United States and most of the European Union member states, have recognized Kosovo. Serbia has not.
Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) and will close at 7 p.m.