On 25 June parliamentary elections took place in Albania, described by Prime Minister and leader of the Socialist Party (PS) Edi Rama as a pivotal moment for the country and its hopes to join the EU. The opposition originally boycotted the elections but decided to take part after agreeing with the ruling parties on a package of measures on 18 May. The measures allowed the opposition to appoint several “technical” ministers and heads of state agencies, meeting their demands for free and fair elections.
The results show – with 94 percent of the votes has counted – that PS won between 48.27 percent of the vote. This means that the PS will get a majority; between 74 seats of the parliament’s 140 seats, and will able to form a government alone. It currently is in government with the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI), but would rather not govern them with again. Rama said during the election campaign that he wants to get rid of the burden of co-government with the LSI and so be free to pursue reforms without conditions.
Lulzim Basha’s Democratic Party (DP) came second with 28.72 percent of the votes. The Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) will have 19 (+10) seats in the new parliament. The Party for Justice, Integration and Unity (PDIU) is expected to get between 3 and 5 percent of the votes. Turnout was at a record low of 45 percent, four years ago 52 percent of the Albanians showed up to vote. More than 300 international observers were present to monitor the elections.
Tasks for the new government
Reforming the justice system will be one of the tasks facing the new government, and a condition to start accession talks with the EU. The DP started a parliamentary boycott in February, preventing the creation of institutions for the vetting of some 800 judges and prosecutors. Making progress on the issue of property rights will be another priority, as there are still many unresolved cases of land and property ownership. The forgery of title deeds was widespread after the fall of communism and according to Rama thousands of people have been affected. Other issues that need to be addressed are the high employment rate, organised crime, drug smuggling and brain drain.
Deputy Prime Minister Ledina Mandija said she received information that armed groups had been trying to buy votes in several towns. The Minister of Interior Dritan Demiraj on his turn said that there an increase in vote-buying on election day and subsequently opened a phone line for people to report vote-buying. There were also some reports of tensions between PS and LSI supporters, but all in all there were no major incidents.