Kosovo Governing Party Loses Capital In Runoff Mayoral Vote

A man and woman cast their ballot at a polling station in Pristina, Kosovo, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. Kosovo is holding municipal elections Sunday in which the eight-month-old leftwing governing party aims at capturing the capital Pristina's city hall. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
A man and woman cast their ballot at a polling station in Pristina, Kosovo, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. Kosovo is holding municipal elections Sunday in which the eight-month-old leftwing governing party aims at capturing the capital Pristina's city hall. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
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PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo's governing party suffered a heavy blow Sunday by losing the capital's mayoral post in runoff municipal elections held in almost two-thirds of the country after center-right opposition parties dominated in the first round.

About 1.26 million voters in the small Balkan nation were eligible to cast ballots in the second round to elect mayors in 21 out of 38 municipalities. Preliminary turnout was 38% Sunday.

The voting was peaceful. Police reported minor incidents not affecting the vote.

The governing left-wing Self-Determination Party, or Vetevendosje!, of Prime Minister Albin Kurti lost the race in Pristina where it had nominated its former health minister, Arben Vitia. It won in four other communes, one more than 2017.

The center-right Democratic League of Kosovo won in Pristina. The league, the center-right opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo of former independence fighters and the Alliance for Kosovo’s Future together won 21 mayoral seats.

The Srpska List party of Kosovo’s ethnic Serb minority, which is close to the Serbian government in Belgrade, won one more mayoral post, adding to nine it won in the first round in the northern Kosovo districts.

Dukagjin Gorani, an independent analyst, said a landslide loss for the governing party could have a negative impact “on the overall legitimacy of both the political party and the government.”

“One might also expect early parliamentary elections, sometimes next year,” Gorani added.

A European Union team was monitoring the election.

Kosovo, which has a majority ethnic Albanian population, declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia has not recognized the move.