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Record low turnout in Kosovo poll

An ethnic Serb boycott has helped cast doubt over the legitimacy of the Kosovo election. But it didn’t prevent the ethnic Albanian Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) from celebrating their preliminary victory. The official results are to follow in the next

Despite the jubilant scenes from PDK's election victory party, it seems that the result of the election is getting a mixed reception elsewhere in Kosovo.

Voting is unlikely to help resolve the independence issue of Serbia's breakaway republic. Not with little more than a third of the population turned out to vote. This is the lowest figure since elections began back in 2001.

Promise of independence

The leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, former rebel Hashim Thaci, has promised the province would break away from Serbia soon after December 10, the deadline for internationally-mediated talks to resolve the dispute over the status of the region.

All the ethnic Albanian parties campaigned pretty much on the same issue, claiming, that without independence the region can’t fight corruption, high unemployment, and poverty.

“I’m not sure that Hashim Thaci is ready to declare the independence of Kosovo. If he does, he will to produce a lot of problems,” said Artyom Ulunyan, an expert in Kosovan history.

Some people are suspicious of the motives of the well-oiled campaign and election. Many voters in Prishtina said, these elections were less about change and more about showing, who was the most important person politically.

Serbian suspicions

The Albanian Kosovars have voted in large numbers. On the contrary, ethnic Serbs have not – boycotting it or standing as members, then winning places and refusing to take their seats in the assembly.

“As I see, these Albanian elections are going under the control of western countries who want to create a new Albanian state in the Balkans. And I know, it’s a pity, but some people have taken bribes of up to 100 euros to vote. They want Serbs to vote so as to make their elections appear legitimate,” Marko Yakcic from the Serbian National People’s Parliament said.

Some Kosovan Serbs say these elections have nothing to offer them, that neither their opinions nor their votes will alter the province's progress towards independence.

There have been protests and scenes of burning ballot papers. Also, one member of the Democratic Socialist Party of Serbia running as a candidate in the assembly elections had his car fire-bombed on the eve of election day. But otherwise, it was relatively peaceful.

In Belgrade, Sunday newspapers ignored Kosovo parliamentary election results with Serbians resolute that Kosovo remains part of it's sovereign state.

December deadline

Meanwhile, the so-called Troika mediators, made up of the U.S., EU and Russia, are preparing the report on the disputed territory's status by December 10.

However, their declaration could also open up other claims for independence from frozen conflict zones like the breakaway regions of Abkhazia, South Ossetia in Georgia and Transdniester in Moldova.

“Kosovo is very different from all the other conflicts in former Russian republics or elsewhere in the world for that matter. The Kosovo conflict, the war in Kosovo, has a different history, a different background,” Mamli Krasniqi from the Democratic Party of Kosovo said.