Thursday

21st Jun 2018

Violence fails to stop first ever Kosovo-wide election

  • OSCE monitors were opted to evacuate after the attack (Photo: jonworth-eu)

Turnout in local elections in Kosovo was up to 22 percent in ethnic Serb areas and 60 percent overall, despite intimidation and violence by Serb hardliners.

The vote on Sunday (3 November) was the first ever Kosovo-wide poll held since it declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

It was also a test of EU attempts to normalise relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

Three ethnic Serb municipalities in north Kosovo - Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan - have for the past five years been ruled by Serb-funded de facto structures, paramilitary groups and criminal gangs.

But in April, Serbia agreed they should elect new local rulers who would fall under Pristina's central authority.

With Serbia keen to show the EU that it merits opening accession talks, the Serbian PM and President at the weekend urged Kosovo Serbs to follow the plan.

But despite the appeal, at around 5pm local time, masked men armed with baseball bats stormed into a polling station at a primary school in a Serb enclave in north Kosovo.

They hit people, reportedly breaking one woman's leg. They also smashed up ballot boxes and threw tear gas canisters. Two similar attacks took place at a technical school and at a medical school in the area at the same time.

The assault prompted the OSCE, a Vienna-based democracy watchdog, to end voting an hour earlier than scheduled and to evacuate its staff.

The attack was the climax of a campaign to sabotage the election by Kosovo Serb hardliners, which began in September with the murder of a Lithuanian policeman serving in the EU's rule of law mission, Eulex.

Ahead of the vote, on Saturday, Krstimir Pantic, a north Kosovo mayoral candidate, was beaten up outside his home.

Pro-boycott groups - with names such as the Chetnicks of Valjevo, DSS, Dveri and Obraz - also threatened people in the street and sent men to polling stations to film and photograph "traitors."

The baseball bat attack drew widespread condemnation.

"These destructive acts of hooliganism have no place in civilized and democratic societies and their perpetrators must be urgently held to account," Farid Zarif, a UN envoy to Kosovo, said on Sunday.

"Rule by thugs must never be accepted," Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt tweeted on Monday morning.

But for his part, the OSCE mission chief, Claude Schlumberger, told press on Sunday the vote was a "success."

He noted that despite the boycott campaign, the Leposavic and Zubin Potok municipalities recorded a turnout of 22 percent, while Zvecan recorded 11.2 percent.

The boycott campaign was not entirely ineffective.

According to Kosovo's Central Election Commission (CEC), turnout among the 50,000 or so ethnic Serbs who live in the north was just 13 percent.

But the CEC noted that turnout in Kosovo's 33 other municipalities was around 60 percent.

By comparison, turnout in UK local elections in May this year was 31 percent. Turnout in the first round of French local elections in October was 33 percent.

"Overall evaluation of local elections in Kosovo: free, fair and progressive. More work to be done in north, but elsewhere Serbs voted well," Kosovo deputy foreign minister, Petrit Selimi, tweeted on Monday.

Ashton clinches Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia is to get a date for EU entry talks, Kosovo is to get control over its north and EU foreign policy chief Ashton got kudos after a breakthrough in talks.

Opinion

Europe could lose out in North Korean bonanza

South Korean businesses including Hyundai and Samsung are already scoping investment opportunities. Will North Korea become a 'new Vietnam' opportunity - or more like Myanmar, where slow Brussels policy-making meant EU exporters lost out.

News in Brief

  1. PES to announce 'spitzenkandidat' names in October
  2. Macedonian parliament ratifies name deal
  3. EU to hit US with import duties from Friday
  4. Commission: New on-road CO2 test would take years
  5. Juncker orders migration 'mini-summit' on Sunday
  6. Luxembourg gave illegal state aid to energy firm
  7. Negotiators lower finger printing age of refugees to six
  8. EU to lift its internal data storage barriers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Latest News

  1. How to get around the EU posted workers directive
  2. EU needs comprehensive 'sexuality education'
  3. Fate of EU refugee deal hangs in the balance
  4. Merkel, Macron in pre-summit pledge on migration, eurozone
  5. Hungary to push ahead with 'Stop Soros' law on NGOs
  6. Swedish party puts EU referendums back in fashion
  7. EU summit set to outsource asylum
  8. Dutch request to clarify Brexit Britons' rights annulled

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us