Albania Ruling Coalition Scores Muted Local Polls Win

Balkan Insight
Fecha de publicación: 
23 Jun 2015

The left-wing coalition headed by Prime Minister Edi Rama won or is leading in key races in the local elections held on Sunday in Albania, but its victory is expected to be much less convincing than in 2013.

With most of the votes counted, left-wing candidates are expected to win key towns like Tirana, Durres, Korca, Elbasan and Vlora, while the opposition held Shkodra and successfully competed in smaller municipalities where it scored some surprising victories in places like Pogradec, Selenica and Permet.

In what it could be seen as a protest vote, the junior ruling coalition partner, the Socialist Movement for Integration, lost a series of key battles to the opposition.

The SMI, which has been a in Albanian politics since 2009, won about 10 per cent of the vote.

The party has angered many in Albania due to the disproportional power that it has amassed and due to allegations of large-scale corruption among its officials.

In the capital city Tirana and the surrounding areas that make up the new municipality of Tirana, the socialist candidate Erion Veliaj, former Minister of Welfare, easily won against opposition candidate Halim Kosova, a well-known obstetrician.

The international OSCE/ODIHR observer mission noted a lack of independent and credible institutions as the main problem at the elections.

“The legal framework could have provided the basis for democratic elections; however, a lack of political will to implement it effectively by the main political parties and the politicization of the institutions involved continued to undermine the electoral process,” Audrey Glover, the head of OSCE/ODIHR mission, said on Monday.

“The politicised nature of the CEC [Central Election Commission] discussions resulted in inconsistent decisions that undermined public confidence in the independence of the election administration,” Glover added.

Turnout at the polls - which were seen as a verdict on the ruling coalition's achievements after 18 months in office - was reported to be low, at around 48 per cent of the electorate.

Albanians were voting to elect 61 mayors and 1,600 local councillors.