PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo is holding municipal elections Sunday in which the left-wing party that has been in government for eight months is aiming to capture the city hall of the capital, Pristina.
About 1.9 million voters are casting ballots to elect mayors for 38 municipalities and some 1,000 town hall lawmakers. Preliminary results are expected by midnight. In previous polls many of the communes have gone to runoffs, which take place in a month’s time.
The main contest will be for Pristina City Hall for which the governing left-wing Self-Determination Party, or Vetevendosje!, has nominated its former health minister, Arben Vitia.
Voting in the north populated predominantly by the ethnic Serb minority will attract much attention following two incidents in the past two months that have led to soaring tensions between Kosovo and Serbia.
Earlier this week, Kosovo police clashed with ethnic Serbs during an anti-smuggling operation, and last month an issue over vehicle license plates was resolved only after mediation from the European Union and the United States. The NATO-led Kosovo Force, or KFOR, deployed troops to the border area, ending the spat.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but Serbia doesn’t recognize the move.
Elections are taking place during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a tough test for the people and authorities. Officials running the election process must have had at least one shot of vaccine, while voters must wear masks. Election teams are taking the ballot box to the homes of people who are currently positive for the virus.