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Left-wing reformist party led by former PM Albin Kurti wins Kosovo election Sunday, 21 February 2021

Left-wing reformist party led by former PM Albin Kurti wins Kosovo election

Kurti’s party has been boosted by his alliance with acting President Vjosa Osmani, the dynamic 38-year-old who recently joined his side after leaving the LDK, which won just 13% of the vote. Vetëvendosje — meaning "self-determination" — was way ahead of its competitors with 48%. The election comes after a year in which the coronavirus pandemic has deepened social and economic crises in the country.

Already one of Europe’s poorest economies, Kosovo is now struggling through a pandemic-triggered downturn, with vaccinations yet to start for the population of 1.8 million."This election was a referendum on justice and employment, against corruption and the capture of state resources," Albin Kurti said in his victory speech. "This is unprecedented in post-war Kosovo."

In Kosovo, a sixth election in 12 years reveals the growing pains of a young nation. Supporters of Albin Kurti accuse those who have long dominated power in Kosovo of having spoiled the first years of independence of the predominantly Albanian-populated territory.

"People are waiting for change, they are waiting for an end to the problems that poison us, such as corruption and nepotism," Sadik Kelemendi, a doctor, told AFP before voting.

"We must also dedicate ourselves to the fight," against a virus that has killed more than 1,500 people and fails to overwhelm fragile health services, he added. Vetëvendosje had finished first in the previous two legislative elections but was ousted by coalitions concluded by others. In 2020, the government of Albin Kurti, who spent two years in the jails of former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, had held out for about 50 days before being overthrown.

This time, his movement can hope to form a majority government if it allies itself with the parties representing the minorities, which have 20 seats out of 120 in Parliament.

High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell and Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi said: "Pending the certification of the final results, we look forward to the formation of the new Assembly and government as well as the election of a new president. The European Union has deployed an Electoral Expert Mission (EEM) which will remain in Kosovo to follow the post-electoral procedures as well and issue recommendations.

"The European Union will continue to engage with the authorities, with a view to supporting Kosovo in achieving tangible progress on its European path. This will require Kosovo to advance on reforms, guided by the Stabilization and Association Agreement and the European Reform Agenda, as well as on regional co-operation. Kosovo’s European path also goes through the comprehensive normalization of relations with Serbia and the EU expects the new authorities in Pristina to engage constructively with a view to a continuation of the meetings of the EU-facilitated Dialogue and seize the opportunity in front of them to reach a comprehensive agreement."

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