Kosovo holds runoff municipal vote for 21 mayoral posts

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Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani casts her ballot in Pristina Kosovo, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. Kosovo is holding runoff municipal elections in almost two-thirds of the country after the center-right opposition parties dominated in the first round. About 1.26 million voters in the small Balkan nation can cast ballots in the second round to elect mayors in 21 out of 38 municipalities. (AP Photo)

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo held runoff municipal elections Sunday in almost two-thirds of the country after center-right opposition parties dominated in the first round.

About 1.26 million voters in the small Balkan nation were eligible to cast ballots in the second round to elect mayors in 21 out of 38 municipalities. Preliminary turnout was 38.4% on Sunday.

The governing left-wing Self-Determination Party, or Vetevendosje!, of Prime Minister Albin Kurti won no mayoral posts in the first round, although it was ahead in the capital of Pristina, where it had nominated its former health minister, Arben Vitia.

The center-right opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo of former independence fighters, the Democratic League of Kosovo and the Alliance for Kosovo’s Future won eight mayoral seats in the first round and are strong contenders to capture more on Sunday.

In the first-round vote a month ago the Srpska List party of Kosovo’s ethnic Serb minority, which is close to the Serbian government in Belgrade, won nine out of 10 seats in the northern Kosovo districts.

Dukagjin Gorani, an independent analyst, said that a landslide loss for the governing party could have a negative impact “on the overall legitimacy of both the political party and the government.”

“One might also expect early parliamentary elections, sometimes next year,” Gorani added.

A European Union team was monitoring the election.

Kosovo, which has a majority ethnic Albanian population, declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia has not recognized the move.

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