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Nagip Arifi’s Democratic Party, which was only founded last year, topped the poll in the region’s main town of Bujanovac; in Presevo, the mayor’s party swept the board.
No single political party won enough votes in Sunday’s general election to independently form the local government in the South Serbia border municipalities of Bujanovac and Presevo, an area with a mainly ethnic Albanian population.
According to the unofficial results of the Municipal Election Commission, the Democratic Party, DP, formed last summer by a former mayor of Bujanovac, Nagip Arifi, won the highest number of votes in that municipality.
Of 21,430 people who cast their votes in the May 6 elections, which was 55 per cent of the electorate, 4,921 voters, or 23.3 per cent, voted for the Democrats [no relation to Serbia’s ruling Democratic Party, DS] in Bujanovac.
Second-placed in the town, with 3,581 votes, or 17.2 per cent, was the Party for Democratic Action, PDD, led by Riza Halimi, the only ethnic Albanian MP in the Serbian parliament.
Arifi formed the Democratic Party together with a group of dissatisfied members of Halimi’s PDD which, up to now, played a dominant role in the local assembly in Bujanovac.
Third-placed, with 2,710 votes, or 13 per cent of vote, was the Movement for Democratic Progress, led by Jonuz Musliu, the president of the current local assembly in Bujanovac.
Musliu was once a commander of the disbanded Liberation Army of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medveđa, OVPMB, which at the end of 2000 clashed with the Serbian security forces. The conflict ended in June 2001 through the mediation of the international community and NATO.
Another Albanian party that also got into the local assembly is the Democratic Union of Albanians, DUA, with 1,375 votes, 6.62 per cent, led by local physician Mejdi Zeqiri.
Parties rallying local Serbs won 20 per cent of the vote, which was 12 per cent down on the 2008 election result.
The Group of Citizens, led by Stojance Arsic, the mayor of Bujanovac during the armed clashes, won only 10 per cent of votes.
A coalition of parties led by Boris Tadic’s Democratic Party, DS, was backed by 8.7 per cent of voters, while the Serbian Progressive Party, SNS, led by Tomislav Nikolic, Tadic’s rival in the presidential run-off, won 7.5 per cent.
The Bujanovac local assembly has 41 seats and the final distribution of seats will be known once elections are repeated at several polling stations where irregularities were reported.
Democratic Party official Nedzat Behljulji told Balkan Insight that his party will not insist on a coalition being formed solely with other ethnic Albanian parties.
“We will offer cooperation to all those who are willing to work for the benefit of society,” Behljulji said.
According to him, the DP will focus on local problems and be “a reliable partner” to the central government in Belgrade.
In the more southerly town of Presevo, mayor Ragimi Mustafa’s Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, won the highest number of votes, badly defeating Halimi’s PDD.
The turnout in this municipality was 55 per cent of the 33,368 registered voters, and the DPA won 6,398, or 40.7 per cent of the votes.
The PDD won 3,762 votes, 24 per cent, while other parties that made it into the local assembly include the Democratic Union of Albanians, on 14.3 per cent, the Democratic Union of the Valley, on 5.2 per cent, and the Democratic Revival, with 7 per cent.
None of the three lists of candidates assembling Serbs in this municipality crossed the 5 per cent threshold needed to enter the assembly.
This spring almost 7 million Serbians are entitled to vote in presidential, general, provincial and local elections.
Since the renewal of multi-party politics in 1990 power has oscillated between a variety of parties in Serbia and votes have often followed by allegations of frauds and protests.
Twelve years after the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic, the scene has changed significantly as parties rise, fall and change their minds. See Balkan Insight's profiles of Serbia's ruling and opposition parties.
Since the first multi-party elections were held in 1990, Serbia has often had acting heads of state, while many of those elected ended their terms before their mandates expired.
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