Kosovo is set to hold snap elections on Sunday in the wake of Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj stepping down this July.
Haradinaj, a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), was summoned for alleged war crimes by a special tribunal in the Hague over his role in the 1998-99 insurgency against Serb forces.
More than 1.9 million registered voters will head to the polls to choose new members of the Balkan country’s 120-seat parliament, according to Kosovo’s Central Election Commission.
While its current population is about 1.8-1.9 million people, according to the World Bank and other sources, Kosovo has a large expatriate population which is eligible to vote.
Some 50,000 observers will monitor the election, where 20 political parties, four election alliances, and one independent candidate will compete.
Due to the large number of parties, another coalition government is expected to emerge from the ballot box.
Albanians make up the majority of the population in Kosovo, which is also home to various minority groups such as Turks, Bosniaks, Serbs, Gorani, Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians. The majority of the Turks live in Mamusha and Prizren and make up 1.1% of the country’s population.
The Turkish Democratic Party of Kosovo (KDTP), which represents the Turks living in the country, is also competing in the elections.
The KDTP got 1.08% of the vote in the last election, winning two seats in parliament.
Voters will be able to cast their votes at 895 polling stations throughout the country. The election will be monitored by some 50,000 observers, including from the European Union.
Election campaigning kicked off on Sept. 25 and ended Thursday.
5 seeking premier’s post
Five candidates are competing for the prime minister’s post.
The AAK-PSD Coalition candidate is Ramush Haradinaj, the NISMA-AKR-PD Coalition candidate is Fatmir Limaj, the Self-Determination Movement (LVV) candidate is Albin Kurti, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) candidate is Vjosa Osmani, and the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) candidate is Kadri Veseli.
The Vakat Coalition consists of the Bosniak Democratic Party (DSB), the Democratic Party Vatan and the United Bosniak Party (USB), while the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) and the Social Democratic Party (PSD) are the second alliance competing in the election.
The Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA), the New Kosovo Alliance (AKR) and the Justice Party (PD) are part of the third alliance, while the Sloboda alliance is made up of the Kosovo Development Party (PSK) and the New Kosovo Party (NPK).
The election’s main issues include the rule of law, the fight against corruption and organized crime, economic development, employment, halting the flow of young people abroad, and the country’s integration with the European Union.
Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, which still considers the country its territory, has not been a prominent issue in campaigns.
Also, no candidate has promised EU visa liberalization for Kosovars.
In Kosovo’s last general election in 2017, the turnout was 41.3%.
The PDK, AAK and NISMA formed the PAN alliance with 33.74% of the vote, winning 39 seats, the LVV got 27.49%, while the LDK, AKR, and Alternative Party alliance got 25.53% of the vote.
The former Serbian province of Kosovo declared independence on Feb. 17, 2008, and is recognized by over 100 countries worldwide, including the U.S., U.K, France, Germany, and Turkey.
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