Round two approaching: The race for Kosovo’s municipalities

This article originally appeared on Kosovo 2.0. Available here in English, Albanian, and Serbian.

The fireworks are over, the billboards are ready to come down and Kosovo’s citizens are in a state of post-election exhaustion. As of today, Kosovo has 10 new mayors:

1. Drenas – Nexhat Dermaku (PDK)
2. Fushe-Kosove – Burim Berisha (LDK)
3. Decan – Rasim Selmanaj (AAK)
4. Istog – Haki Rugova (LDK)
5. Kacanik – Besim Iljazi (PDK)
6. Podujeve – Agim Veliu (LDK)
7. Skenderaj – Sami Lushtaku (PDK)
8. Shtimje – Naim Ismajli (PDK)
9. Mamushe – Arif Butuç (PP – Turkish minority party)
10. Hani i Elezit – Rufki Suma (independent candidate)

As for everyone else… get ready for round two. Across the country, it looks like Kosovo’s voters are torn between the PDK (the current ruling party) and the LDK (the party that represents Ibrahim Rugova’s legacy). The capital, however, is an exception, and it looks like the battle for leadership of Prishtina is going to be fought between incumbent LDK mayor Isa Mustafa and Vetevendosje candidate Shpend Ahmeti.

The best part about the elections: More people came out to vote. 744,954 people, or 47 percent of the country, voted, which is an increase from the 2009 municipal elections, in which 45.36 percent (709,362) of citizens voted. Apart from the issues that arose in northern Mitrovica, Kosovo’s municipal elections took place without incident and without massive fraud. Ranilug (56.31 percent) and Partes’ (67.11 percent) participation in this round of elections is particularly noteworthy and under-reported.

Prishtina

It’s a tight race between LDK’s Isa Mustafa (43.22 percent) and Vetevendosje’s Shpend Ahmeti (31.54 percent), with PDK’s Agim Ceku trailing behind them at 10.72 percent. Partia e Forte got 1.53 percent of the vote, which in their minds probably means 153 percent.

In the assembly, the LDK is at 38.13 percent, Vetevendosje is at 19.80 percent, while the PDK is at 15.05 percent.

Peja

An even tighter race between AAK-LDD’s Ali Berisha with 36.03 percent and Gazmend Muhaxheri with 40.46 percent of the vote, again with the PDK’s Muhamet Halitaj trailing at 15.31 percent.

The assembly will be led by the AAK-LDD (29 percent), followed by LDK (31.32 percent) and PDK (17.92)

Gjakova

Mimoza Kusari Lila is in the lead with 41.86 percent of the vote, followed by AAK-LDD’s musically famous Pal Lekaj (his campaign song claims, among other things, that “he fought Serbia, and studied medicine…”). Once again, PDK trails behind in third place.

It looks like Gjakova’s assembly will be the most inclusive in terms of party representation: AAK-LDD has 24.22 percent of the vote, LDK has 14.73 percent, AKR has 22.93 percent, and PDK has 16.23 percent.

Prizren

PDK’s Ramadan Muja — the incumbent mayor who is under investigation for misuse of public funds — is in the lead at 37.08 percent, followed again by LDK candidate Eqrem Kryeziu (25.22 percent). Luckily for Prizren, the conservative, religious, and frankly scary-sounding Party of Justice only has 1.48 percent of the vote.

Prizren’s assembly will have two major players, the LDK (21.84 percent) and PDK (26.17 percent)… the rest of the assembly is a varied group of minority parties, each holding only a small fraction of the total seats.

Mitrovica (South)

PDK’s Avni Kastrati looks like the only candidate with a chance of winning, with the LDK’s Mehdi Jonuzi far behind at 19.86 percent.

In the assembly, the old rivalry continues: LDK has 22.83 percent of the assembly votes, while PDK has 38.46 percent.

Mitrovica (north)

Northern Mitrovica is, simply put, a disaster. Last night, three voting stations in the north were attacked by masked Serbian protesters. Voting boxes were destroyed, voters’ lists were stolen, and an unspecified number of voters were injured. Other voting stations in the north were closed due to security threats. OSCE observers evacuated the north, leaving the residents of northern Mitrovica to deal with the mess on their own. According to Zeri, Serbian police crossed the border and intervened. It’s unclear exactly what EULEX, KFOR and the Kosovo Police Force were doing to prevent such attacks.

What Has Changed?

The LDK has made an unexpected comeback, while support for the PDK has waned. Vetevendosje, the largest of the “third option” parties didn’t win any municipalities, and its candidates will not be facing any runoffs, save for the notable exception of Prishtina. The date for the runoff has not yet been set, but the Central Elections Committee is expected to announce it within the next four weeks. In Gjakova, if Mimoza Kusari-Lila beats AAK’s incumbent Pal Lekaj in the runoff, AKR could finally win a municipality. AAK has a tough fight ahead, as the party only won Decan, and is facing a few runoffs in previous strongholds.

 

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