PRISTINA -- Supporters of Perparim Rama celebrated into the night after the British-educated architect won the closely watched mayoral race in the Kosovar capital, Pristina.
Preliminary results from the November 14 runoff election gave Rama of the opposition Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) party the victory over former Health Minister Arben Vitia from the governing Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) Movement.
With more than 98 percent of votes counted, preliminary results from the Central Election Commission showed that Rama had won the runoff with 51 percent of the vote.
The LDK declared victory at a news conference, with Rama vowing to be “the mayor of all citizens of Pristina.”
The Pristina mayoral race was seen as the biggest prize of Kosovo’s nationwide municipal elections.
In the first round, Vitia had won 42 percent of the vote, while Rama took 29 percent.
The post had been held the past two terms by Vetevendosje-backed politician Shpend Ahmeti.
In a late-night news conference, Vitia conceded victory to Rama and said, “I wish Pristina success.”
"Prishtina has a winner, and he is Mr. Perparim Rama," Vitia said.
The runoff races, coming one month after the first round, were considered a key test for Kosovo’s governing Vetevendosje Movement and its prime minister, Albin Kurti.
The second round was held in 21 municipalities after 17 races were finalized in the October 17 first round.
The Vetevendosje Movement won more than 50 percent of the vote during parliamentary elections in February, but it did not secure any mayoral position in the first round of the municipal elections in October.
The party competed in 12 municipalities in the second round.
According to the preliminary results, Vetevendosje won in the municipality of Kamenica with candidate Kadri Rahimaj; in Podujeva with Shpejtim Bulliq; in Shtime with Qemajl Aliu; and in Gjilan with Alban Hyseni.
Hyseni said his victory in Gjilan represents "historic change."
"Our governance is comprehensive and as such, from now on, we co-govern in every neighborhood, every village, for all ages, for all strata, for all communities, for all businesses, and above all for all citizens. of Gjilan. "You can count on the new fairy and the new leadership we brought together," he said on his Facebook account.
The LDK won in Istog with Ilir Ferati; in Fushe Kosove with Beka Berisha; in Junik with Ruzhdi Shehu; and in Viti with Sokol Haliti.
The Democratic Party of Kosovo won in Prizren with Shaqir Totaj; in Gllogoc with Ramiz Lladrovci; in Dragash with Shaban Shabani; in Kaçanik with Besim Ilazi; and in Vushtrri with Ferit Idrizi.
The Alliance for the Future of Kosovo won in Gjakova with Ardian Gjini; in Klina with Zenun Elezaj; and in Rahovec with Smajl Latif.
The Social Democratic Initiative won in Malisheva with Ekrem Kastrati.
In Obiliq, Xhafer Gashi from the Civic Initiative for Obiliq was the victor.
Abdulhadi Krasniq from KDTP won in Mamusha.
In Kllokot, the runoff was won by Vladan Bogdanovi nga from the Serbian List.