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Kosovo's PM claims victory in election

The successful elections in Kosovo are part of an agreement to normalize relations between Serbia and Kosovo as a condition for both countries to become members of the European Union.
By Aileen Graef   |   June 9, 2014 at 9:57 AM   |   Comments

PRISTINA, Kosovo, June 9 (UPI) -- Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci declared victory for the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) in Sunday's elections, despite low voter turnout and a narrow lead.

As of Monday morning, 97 percent of the polling stations were reporting a 42 percent turnout nationally with an even lower average in areas with a majority of ethnic Serbs. In the same report, the Democratic League of Kosovo had 25.84 percent of the vote and Thaci's PDK party had 30.80 percent, according to the Central Election Commission.

Despite the narrow margin, Thaci declared victory early Monday morning. Pristina Mayor Isa Mustafa has yet to concede to Thaci.

Serbia encouraged ethnic Serbs in the country to go and vote in order to help both countries enhance their chances at acquiring EU memberships. Serbia, unlike the U.S. and EU, still does not recognize Kosovo's independence but pushed the Serbian community to take part in the elections. Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said it would be "unwise" for ethnic Serbs not to participate.

There were no instances of violence during the voting like the kind that hit the polls during the elections in 2010, where they saw a voter turnout of 47.8 percent. There were also 30,000 monitors put in place to prevent ballot stuffing and voter fraud that invalidated the votes at 20 polling stations last election.

The main issue on the minds of voters is the economy. Two-thirds of people under 25 are unemployed and nearly half the population is considered poor. Thaci raised public sector wages and pensions by 25 percent, and promised upon reelection to repeat the raise annually for the next four years.

"Our state is a new European state, a state that has great opportunities, and I'm committed to making the most of them," said Thaci after voting.

Follow @AileenGraef and @UPI on Twitter.
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Topics: Hashim Thaci
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