Kosovo’s opposition parties won an early general election, signaling a turn away from politicians who rose to prominence as guerrilla fighters against neighboring Serbia in the 1990s.
With a shared legacy of war holding up EU membership for both sides, Sunday’s ballot marked a defeat for outgoing Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, who resigned in July to face interrogation by a war crimes tribunal.
He had campaigned on a 100 percent import tax he imposed on Serbian products last year in retaliation for Serbia’s lobbying against Kosovo joining international organizations.
The leftist Self-Determination Movement led by Albin Kurti and the center-right Democratic League of Kosovo led by former Kosovar prime minister Isa Mustafa took 26 percent and 25 percent of the vote respectively, almost complete results showed.
Shortly after the results were out early yesterday, Kurti said that the two parties might form a coalition government, local media reported.
Kosovar Assembly Speaker Kadri Veseli’s party was headed for third place with 21 percent and a Haradinaj-led coalition was at 12 percent.
The two opposition parties that won the most votes have been critical of Haradinaj’s policies.
Even so, all major groups in predominantly ethnic Albanian-populated Kosovo demand unconditional recognition of independence from Serbia and reject concessions such as a land swap floated last year by the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo.
EU-mediated talks to normalize relations stalled last year.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday that his country was ready to resume the negotiations with whomever forms a new government in Kosovo, on condition that the trade barrier is lifted.
Kosovo seceded from Serbia in 2008 and is seeking full international recognition as an independent state and a lasting peace deal with its neighbor as both Balkan nations seek to advance toward EU membership.
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