The counting has begun in Kosovo’s first-ever elections, seen as a key test of Pristina’s commitment to democracy, and satisfying minority aspirations.
The key minority being the Serbs, but they are not expected to vote in any large numbers as Belgrade and Serb radicals have called for a boycott of the local and municipal elections. However not everyone is following their lead. “My beliefs are that we should , the Serbs should get a Serbian mayor in this municipality, and that’s the only reason why we should go out and vote.” That was one man’s view from Strpce, where some of the six percent of Kosovo’s two million people who are ethnic Serbs live. Most live in the north. Previous elections were conducted by the UN. “Serbs voting in these elections is a catastrophe. They are worse than the Albanians. If they don’t work for the Serbs and Serbian interests, and if they don’t see and understand the Serbian goal, there’s no point talking about them.” That is a view from Mitrovica, where a river separates the Serb and ethnic Albanian communities, and tension and low-level violence often threatens to bubble up into something more serious. Prime Minister Hashim Thaci insists he wants to lead a democratic multi-ethnic society that can integrate with the EU. This election may reveal just how close he and Kosovo are to realising this ambition.