The Chief Observer, Alojz Peterle, Member of the European Parliament, presented on Tuesday the preliminary findings of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) on the 19 November Mayoral Runoffs in Kosovo. “These were highly competitive elections,” said Peterle during a press conference in Pristina today.
19 out of 38 municipalities across Kosovo including in Pristina and Prizren held on Sunday mayoral runoffs. In the municipality of Partes the mayoral elections were repeated on the same day based on a decision by the Supreme Court to annul the results of the first round. Peterle said that campaigning continued in a predominantly calm atmosphere. “Contestants were able to express their messages freely and started to campaign immediately after the first round. During the five days of the official campaign, the EU EOM positively noted a large number of debates organized by broadcast media,” said Peterle. The EU EOM noted heightened tension in Gjakova and Mitrovica South. The atmosphere in the Kosovo Serb-majority communities of Partesh and Kllokot was polarized but without the occurrence of major incidents. The representatives of both mayoral candidates in Partesh have accused each other of continued acts of vote buying and pressure on their supporters. Broadcast media during the five-day election campaign offered fairly balanced news coverage, and organized several election debates among contestants.
On election day, the EU EOM visited 292 polling stations. The opening and the voting were mostly calm and conducted in an orderly fashion. Counting was conducted mostly in a transparent and efficient manner. However, some important aspects of the voting and counting process needs to be addressed to further improve the election day process. Access to polling station premises for persons with disabilities proved challenging, with slightly over half of the polling stations visited accessible for persons with reduced mobility. The layout of the polling stations was not suitable for such persons in more than one fifth of polling stations observed. “Voters’ understanding of the voting procedures continues to be an area where much improvement is needed. The secrecy of the vote was negatively affected by practices such as family and group voting”, Peterle said during today’s press conference.
The EU EOM deployed more than 70 observers across Kosovo on election day from 25 EU Member States as well as Norway and Switzerland. The EU EOM will remain in Kosovo to follow the process at the Count and Results Center and the resolution of any complaints and appeals, until the certification of final results.