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OSCE Hails 'Orderly' Kosovo Election Process; EU Calls For Swift Formation Of Government

A vote-counting center in Kosovo, where it appears the ruling party won, but without enough of a majority to form a government.
A vote-counting center in Kosovo, where it appears the ruling party won, but without enough of a majority to form a government.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says Kosovo's snap parliamentary elections were held in an "orderly" manner and took place "without major irregularities or incidents."

The Vienna-based organization, whose teams provided technical assistance and support to the conduct of the June 11 elections in the northern Kosovo Serb-majority municipalities, made the assessment in a statement issued late on June 12.

It noted irregularities related to the "nonacceptance of Serbian IDs for some voters and instances of double and multiple voting," but added that these issues were later resolved.

Preliminary results suggest the ruling center-right Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) won the most votes in the election, but it appeared unlikely to have won enough seats to govern even with its planned coalition partners.

The vote also confirmed the strong rise of the nationalist Self-Determination Movement (VV) party, which nearly doubled its support since the last election and looked set to finish second in the overall vote.

With 99 percent of the ballots cast on June 11 counted, the coalition headed by the PDK of President Hashim Thaci had 34 percent, according to the Central Election Commission. The PDK coalition includes former prime minister and rebel leader Ramush Haradinaj's Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK).

The nationalist VV had 27 percent, just ahead of a coalition led by outgoing Prime Minister Isa Mustafa's Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), which had 26 percent.

Turnout was put at 41.5 percent in Kosovo's third elections since it declared independence from Serbia in 2008. The country is recognized by 114 other countries but not by Serbia and Russia.

The preliminary results mean no single group will be able to govern alone, and Kosovo could be heading toward lengthy talks on forming a coalition government.

"The outcome is definitely one which is not creating immediately a clear majority for a government, and I hope that it doesn't take again up to nine months as it was the case last time [in 2014], because it is so important for this country to stay committed to reform," EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said on June 12.

"For us it is crucial that the country and its representatives are committed to the European perspective," Hahn said, adding that "better living conditions [are] only achievable embedded into the European Union."

Kosovo's next government will have to tackle unemployment running around one-third of the workforce despite solid economic expansion of about 4 percent annually in one of the poorest countries in Europe.

Other key priorities include establishing better control over privatization and creating a functioning war crimes court and prosecution office, which would start the process of sidelining wartime leaders from political and public life.

Yet the biggest issues surrounding the vote are a pair of agreements signed in 2015 -- one setting the border with Montenegro and another with Serbia that increases powers held by ethnic Serbs in Kosovo.

Those issues have helped stalled reforms in the legislature and angered the electorate in a country where about one-third of the population is under the age of 15.

With reporting by Reuters
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