Democracy in Kosovo comes under close scrutiny today as the self-declared state goes to the polls in its first election since announcing independence last year.
Previous ballots were organised by the UN but this municipal poll is the first to be administered by Kosovar authorities. President Fatmir Sejdiu called on minority Serbs to participate as he visited the main count centre. Some observers believe they might. Agron Bajrami, editor of the Koha Ditore newspaper said: “These elections are very important because they are the first ones that are being held after independence has been declared, and also because it’s the first time that there are real expectations that the Serb community might participate.” Kosovo’s Albanian government hopes for some level of Serb turnout to boost the election’s credibility in the eyes of the international community. The electoral commission says 22 of the 74 political parties, coalitions and individuals standing represent Serbs. However, Belgrade, which claims Kosovo is part of Serbia, has called on the minority to boycott the vote.