Municipal elections, 17 October 2021. Photo:Urim Krasniqi/BIRN

Kosovo Ruling Party Loses Capital in Local Election Setbacks

In the second round of local elections on Sunday, the governing Vetevendosje party lost the race in eight of the 12 municipalities it was competing in – including the all-important capital, Pristina.

Kosovo’s ruling Vetevendosje party suffered a heavy blow in Sunday’s mayoral election runoffs, winning only four of the 12 municipalities it was competing in, and losing in the capital.

Perparim Rama, a London-educated architect who ran for Pristina mayor for the opposition Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, won the race against Arben Vitia, former Health Minister in Albin Kurti’s current government, by a narrow margin of 1,700 votes. Rama took 40,659 votes (51.07 per cent) while Vitia took 38,958 (48.93 per cent).

“In Pristina we will govern with full care and responsibility. It is an extraordinary achievement for the LDK and the capital,” LDK leader Lumir Abdixhiku said after his candidate was confirmed as the winner.

Twenty-one of 38 municipalities in Kosovo which did not give a majority to any candidates in the first round on October 17 elected mayors this Sunday, in what was considered a key test for the governing Vetevendosje party.

It came to the local elections with great expectations after its landslide win in the legislative elections earlier this year, when it became the first party since Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 1999 to win more than half of all the votes cast.

All three other main parties, the LDK, the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, and Alliance for the Future of Kosovo AAK – which even together did not muster the number of votes Vetevendosje won in February – celebrated on the evening of October 17.

While the PDK won South Mitrovica,  Ferizaj/Urosevac, Skenderaj/Srbica and Hani i Elezit/Deneral Jankovic, the LDK took Peje/Pec and Lipjan/Ljipljane, and the AAK won in its stronghold of Decan/Decane and in Suhareke/Suva Reka.

Rama himself, who had returned from London, where he runs an architect studio, pledged to work for every person in Pristina during his four-year term.

“I can’t describe in words the excitement of this victory; this is a victory of every inhabitant, without any difference. Your vote today shows that we are emancipated, your vote today grants me the privilege of being mayor of Pristina, which, as the capital city, belongs to the whole of Kosovo,” he said

Rama’s victory marks the LDK’s comeback in Pristina after eight years, since LDK leader Isa Mustafa lost the city to Vetevendosje’s Shpend Ahmeti in 2013.

All Vetevendosje could do in these local elections is keep control in Podujeve/Podujevo, a small municipality it won in last year’s extraordinary elections, and win in Gjilan/Gnjilane, Kamenice/Kamenica and Shtime/Stimlje.

Speaking from Prizren, where his candidate narrowly defeated Vetevendosje’s candidate Mytaher Haskuka, PDK leader Memli Krasniqi said Sunday’s vote had put an end to the eight-month political dominance of Kurti’s party.

“The political scene has changed after these elections. There is no dominant political force any more, as there was eight months ago. The Kosovo people have turned their back on Kurti and Vetevendosje; they turned their backs on the model of rule by one single person,” Krasniqi said.

A local coalition of election observers, Democracy in Action, said Sunday’s vote went smoothly and without serious incident. “Election day was not characterized by any serious incident inside polling stations that could have affected the credibility of the process,” the coalition said in a statement.

15/11/2021 - 11:47

15 November 2021 - 11:47

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.