On 14 May, Albanians will go to the polls to cast their vote in the nationwide local elections. Transparency
and fairness are important topics in this years’ elections, as elections in Albania have been disputed before
by various contenders. At this moment – following the opposition’s boycott of the local elections in 2019 –
nearly all municipalities in Albania are governed by Prime Minister Edi Rama’s Socialist Party. A total of 48
political parties with nearly 24,000 candidates will reportedly participate in the election.
Concerns over fraud, manipulation and finance
While the run-up to the local elections has been relatively uneventful, there are many concerns over the
transparency and fairness of the election. This is largely due to elections in the past. For example in 2016,
where vote-buying occurred regularly. Furthermore, on 19 April, suspicious circumstances were reported
after a mayoral election in a remote municipality in northern Albania, which saw the Socialist Party
candidate’s son accused of vote-buying.
Another concern includes a controversial statement by Prime Minister Rama in which he threatened to stop
federal funding of municipalities that would vote for opposition parties. Rama later declared that his
comments were a result of opposition leader Sali Berhisha’s “involvement in significant corruption”. The
financial transparency of political parties is an important issue as well. In 2022, a commission was
designated to investigate political finances. Out of 132 potential reports, however, only 37 were handed in,
leaving a large number of Albania’s political parties unchecked. A mission of 324 OSCE observers will be
present at the elections to serve as international watchdog.
The biggest rival of the ruling Socialist Party will be the Together we Win-coalition, which includes the splitoff faction the Democracy Party led by former Prime Minister and President Sali Berisha. Polls show that
the Socialist Party is ahead in most municipalities, including the big cities Tirana, Elbasan and Durrës.