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news 22 Oct 17

Kosovars Spy Hope of Change in Local Elections

As people throughout Kosovo get ready to vote in Sunday's municipal elections, surveys show that most of them hope the result will bring about positive changes for their families and communities.

Die Morina
BIRN
Pristina
Election day in Kosovo, June 2017 | Photo: Atdhe Mulla

Kosovo citizens go to the polls on Sunday to vote for mayors and members of assemblies in the country's 38 municipalities, hoping a change in power will lead to a change in their daily lives.

The main battle is focused in the capital, Pristina, which is also the only municipality governed by the opposition Vetevendosje Movement.

The current mayor, Shpend Ahmeti, won the race in 2013 following a run-off with the former Prime Minister, Isa Mustafa, whose Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, had governed the capital for 14 years.

Most Kosovo municipalities are governed by the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK and the LDK, but after its strong performance in the general election in June, the Vetevendosje Movement is hoping to win control of around 10 municipalities. 

Days before the election, the GAP Institute published a report on citizens’ expectations. According this report, released last week, over 70 per cent of citizens believe the October local elections will bring about some positive changes for their families and communites, and better governance at local level.

However, only 7 per cent said they were fully convinced that such positive changes would happen right after the local elections.

Over 52 per cent said they would not vote for a candidate if he or she belonged to another ethnicity. The biggest objection to voting for candidates of another ethnicity was among men.

Of the 38 municipalities in Kosovo, 27 are Albanian-majority, 10 are Serb-majority and one is mainly ethnic Turkish.

Gracanica, Kllokot/Klokot, Ranillug/Ranilug, Partesh/Partes, North Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zubin Potok, Zvecan, Shterpca/Strpce and Novoberda/Novo Brdo are the municipalities with an ethnic Serb majority. In Mamusha/Mamusa, the majority belong to the Turkish community.

Sunday’s local elections are the second in which the Serb-majority north has taken part. The process will be facilitated by Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE, mission in Kosovo.

As expected, the election campaign in the northernmost municipalities saw a good deal of interference by the Serbian government. The Director of the Office for Kosovo in the Serbian government, Marko Duric, toured several northern municipalities urging voters to support the Belgrade-backed party, Lista Sprska.

Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj on Thursday condemned the Serbian government's action, saying that it was “in contradiction with good neighbourly principles and substantially violated the aim of normalization of relations the between two countries”.

During the voting, 86 prosecutors and the police will be on hand to ensure a regular process.

The municipal elections are being held at a regular time after the current group of mayors completed their four-year mandate. The present mayors assumed office in 2013. 

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