People in Kosovo vote today in an election seen as one step away from a declaration of independence. Whoever wins ethnic Albanian voters seem certain to return a government dedicated to forging a future apart from Serbia. Kosovo’s 6 percent Serb minority is boycotting the ballot at the demand of the Serbian government. Belgrade is bitterly opposed to the proposed seccession of its southern province, which has been under UN administration since the war of 1999.
Former guerrilla commander Hashim Thaci and his opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo enjoy a narrow lead in opinion polls. But it is expected they would have to share power, possibly with the Democratic League of Kosovo, the party of the late independence champion Ibrahim Rugova.
Talks between Serbia an ethnic Albanian leaders are set to finish on December 10, but there is no sign the sides will reach a compromise. The international community is also divided over Kosovo. The US advocates independence supervised by an EU mission. But Serbia’s ally Russia has blocked the proposal at the UN.