The opposition leftist Vetevendosje party is set to come in first in Kosovo's parliamentary poll, but will have to negotiate a coalition to form a government.
According to preliminary results based on 82 per cent of the votes counted, Vetevendosje (Self-determination) won 26 per cent of the votes, while another opposition party - the centre-right Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) - won 25 per cent of the votes.
During the campaign, LDK and Vetevendosje leaders said they would form a ruling coalition together. But to make it stable they will need either another party or the support of minorities - Serbs, Turks, and Bosniaks - who together have 20 seats in the parliament.
The election, the fourth since Kosovo's declaration of independence in 2008, was called after Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned in July when he was summoned to appear before a war crimes court.
He has been questioned over his role in the 1998-99 war as one of the commanders of the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which fought for independence from Serbia. He denies wrongdoing.
Whoever ends up running Kosovo next will have to face the issue of ties with Serbia, from which it declared independence in 2008. Normalisation of ties between the two could help secure Pristina a seat in the United Nations.
Opinion polls before the vote pointed to public dissatisfaction with Haradinaj's record at the head of a three-party governing coalition as boosting support for the opposition, which campaigned on platforms of tackling what they said is deeply rooted corruption.
The Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), the largest party in the outgoing coalition, came in third with 21 per cent of the votes, and a list led by Haradinaj got 11.5 per cent, preliminary results showed.
Turnout was 44.05 per cent. The vote count did not include votes from the diaspora, which traditionally go to Vetevendosje mostly.
Australian Associated Press