Wednesday

18th Jan 2017

Ethnic Serbs vote as normal in Kosovo elections

  • EU police helped provide security for the OSCE monitors in the north (Photo: Eulex)

Tens of thousands of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo turned out to vote in national elections on Sunday (8 June) in what the EU is calling "a step forward" for democracy.

With almost all ballots counted, Kosovo's Central Election Commission says turnout in the four northern municipalities which are home to many Kosovar Serbs varied from 27 to 40 percent.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Monitors from Europe's democracy watchdog, the OSCE, which sent 150 staff to the area, said all 94 polling stations were allowed to work in normal conditions.

"We were happy to witness a smooth election operation, conducted in a professional manner. There were no major incidents or irregularities reported," the head of the mission, Jean-Claude Schlumberger, said.

The EU foreign service added: "These elections are a step forward in the consolidation of Kosovo's democracy."

The events in north Kosovo stand in contrast to local elections last year, when pro-Serb militias attacked officials and smashed ballot boxes in protest at an EU deal to end de facto Serb rule in the region.

There were minor incidents this weekend.

Some Kosovar Serbs complained that ballot boxes should not bear the Kosovo state logo, because they do not recognise Kosovo independence despite taking part in the poll.

But Serbia itself, which also does not recognise Kosovo, but which is keen to make progress on EU accession, encouraged people to make the vote a success. "The best choice for the Serb people is participation in the elections," Serb PM Aleksandar Vucic said last week.

The events also stand in contrast to the 2010 national election in Kosovo, which saw accusations of large-scale fraud.

Overall turnout in Kosovo on Sunday was 42 percent, a fall compared to 54 percent in 2007 and 48 percent in 2010.

But the overall figure is similar to the EU-wide turnout for European Parliament elections in May.

Thaci wins

Kosovo PM Hashim Thaci held on to power, with his PDK party winning with 31 percent.

The opposition LDK got 26 percent, while Self-Determination, a group which opposes the north Kosovo deal and which is wary of the EU in general, got 14 percent.

Thaci came first despite allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

He has promised to boost public wages, pensions, and social welfare by 25 percent every year.

But he might find it hard to find coalition partners and it is unclear where he will get the money, amid sluggish growth and unemployment of more than 35 percent.

He also promised to "work harder to join Nato and the EU".

Kosovo is in talks with Brussels on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, a precursor to EU accession.

But five EU states – Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain – also do not recognise its independence, making its pro-EU path uncertain, with Spain, for one, unlikely to move on the issue amid separatist tension of its own in Catalonia.

EU criticises Trump's Israel embassy idea

EU foreign relations chief Mogherini has warned that if Trump moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem it could have “serious consequences”.

News in Brief

  1. Europe has no vision, says Italian minister
  2. Juncker has 'slight doubts' on his group's convention idea
  3. EU parliament spat changes nothing, says Juncker
  4. German elections likely on 24 September
  5. Maltese PM announces plan for Brexit summit
  6. EU needs more Turkey-style migrant deals, Malta PM says
  7. Dutch minister: Don't underestimate risk of hacking
  8. European court rules against Russia adoption ban on US

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey