The ruling party of Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci is claiming victory in the country’s parliamentary elections.
With about 70 percent of ballots counted, official preliminary results showed the Democratic Party of Kosovo earning 30 percent of the vote to beat out the main opposition Democrat League of Kosovo, which had 25 percent. Officials said turnout Sunday was 43 percent of eligible voters.
Thaci will likely earn a third term as prime minister. He spoke to supporters Monday in Pristina, saying the people of Kosovo should be proud of the vote.
“Dear citizens of the Republic of Kosovo, Kosovo should be proud of these elections and Kosovo is proud. These were elections that focused on our citizens. They were elections in which the citizens themselves chose the state they want to live in. These were democratic, fair and free elections,” said Thaci.
The former guerilla fighter is the only leader Kosovo has had since winning independence from Serbia in 2008.
He says a successful election will send a message to Europe that Kosovo is a democracy.
Kosovo has its sights set on joining the European Union, but economic progress has been painfully slow. The country has 35 percent unemployment and a major problem with corruption.
(Photo of Thaci: EC Audiovisual Service)