21 communes and Pristina City Hall need a runoff in Kosovo's municipal election

Early results in Kosovo's municipal election suggest centre-right opposition parties are leading, but runoffs will still be needed to decide more than half of the winners. In total, 21 out of 38 municipalities will hold a second round of voting to elect mayors.

About 1.9 million voters were eligible to cast ballots to elect mayors for 38 municipalities and some 1,000 town hall lawmakers.

In a blow after its meteoric rise eight months ago, Kosovo’s ruling Vetevendosje party will have to wait for the second round of local elections to see whether it has won control of any of the country’s 38 municipalities. It will go to a run-off in four of the seven big municipalities – the capital, Pristina, Prizren, Gjakove and Gjilan.

The main contest was for Pristina City Hall, where the ruling left-wing Self-Determination Party, or Vetevendosje!, is hoping to take control. But since it has not crossed the 50% result the capital also faces a runoff.

The center-right Democratic Party of Kosovo of former independence fighters, and whose ex-leaders are being tried for war crimes, has won nine posts, followed by the center-right Democratic League of Kosovo with seven and the Alliance for Kosovo’s Future with six mayors.

A Vetevendosje MP, Fitore Pacolli, predicted more gains in round two and applauded the calm election, which ran smoothly and saw only minor incidents reported during the day.

“We have shown that we are an example for the entire region in our ability to organise elections without incidents and deviations from citizens’ will,” Pacolli said as quoted by Birn on Monday. “We will win everywhere we are in the runoff. Compared to the last municipal elections in 2017, when our party came third, we are now the most voted one,” she added.

The former ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, declared victory in Mitrovica South, Ferizaj, Skenderaj and Hani i Elezit.

“Today, citizens showed their great dissatisfaction with the work of Albin Kurti’s government in the first eight months of its existence. For us, a new beginning is starting by unifying with citizens to stop the degradation of governing values in Kosovo,” PDK head Memli Krasniqi said.

The Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, meanwhile declared victory in Peje and Lipjan and will contest a runoff in some other municipalities. “We see this as the day of our great comeback, which we announced a long time ago. This comeback is an achievement for each of us but above all it is a responsibility, which we have to exercise with full care,” Lumir Abdixhiku, the LDK head, said on Sunday.

The Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, won in Suhareke and Decan and will go to a second round in Gjakove, Rahovec and Junik.

The Srpska List party of Kosovo’s ethnic Serb minority, which is close to the Serbian government in Belgrade, has won the 10 seats in northern Kosovar communes. A Turkish minority party won another commune. Voting there attracted much attention following two incidents in the past two months that have led to soaring tensions between Kosovo and Serbia.

Srpska Lista president Goran Rakic said on Sunday that, “we are fighting for the Association of Serb Majority Municipalities…If there is no Association, there will be no Kosovo institutions.“

International observers are due to issue a preliminary report on the vote on Tuesday. / Argumentum.al