PRISTINA – The leader of Kosovo’s leftist-nationalist Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) party said parliamentary elections on February 14 were a referendum that handed his party a chance for a new start.
“Tomorrow begins a new day. This great victory tonight is only an opportunity for us to begin a change that we want,” said Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti after partial official result showed his party headed for a resounding victory. “Ahead of us there is lots of work because the country is in multiple crises.”
Kurti, who led a government last year that was brought down in March by a no-confidence motion, spoke at a press conference with Vjosa Osmani, Kosovo’s acting president, who ran on the same ticket with Kurti.
According to preliminary results, Vetevendosje had 48 percent, far ahead of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) with about 18 percent, the now-ruling Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) with 13 percent, and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) with about 7 percent.
Voter turnout was 47 percent, the Central Election Commission said. The preliminary results do not include conditional votes, ballots that were mailed in, and the votes of people with special needs.
Kurti acknowledged that Vetevendosje, even with its strong finish, will still be short of 61 votes to form a majority in parliament, meaning the party likely will have to join forces with at least one other party to govern.
“We will wait for the counting of all the votes and certainly we are going to have a new government without including those who should reform themselves in opposition,” Kurti said, according to RFE/RL’s Balkan Service.
He said the new government’s priorities will be justice and employment.
Kurti, who had urged voters to “vote with love for the country,” said that according to public opinion, the creation of a negotiation team for dialogue with Serbia was far down the list of priorities in sixth or seventh place.
Osmani said the new government’s missions also would be strengthening statehood and the road to integration into European and transatlantic structures, “as well as our enduring friendship with the U.S.”
The PDK congratulated Vetevendosje on the win and said it would not join a coalition.
“We have big differences in our political orientations, and we do not make compromises with values on which the PDK were built,” said Enver Hoxhaj, who was on the ballot as the party’s candidate for prime minister.
“Kosovo needs stability and we promise we will be a factor of stability as an opposition party,” said Hoxhaj at a press conference.
Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said the preliminary results were “completely difference from what we expected” and he took full responsibility for the LDK loss, but he said the electoral process had been carried out properly, meeting European standards.
“On behalf of the LDK, we will be uncompromising defenders of democracy and pro-Western orientation, being a constructive opposition in the interest of the state of Kosovo,” Hoti added.