Albania Ruling Parties Romp Home in Local Election

Balkan Insight
Fecha de publicación: 
26 Jun 2015

Albania's left-wing governing coalition scored a massive victory in last Sunday's local elections, winning about 62 per cent of the vote, while international observers raised concerns about allegations of vote-buying and intimidation.

With more than 92 per cent of the votes counted, the 37 parties of the left-wing ruling coalition won 62 per cent of all votes cast on Sunday while the 15 parties of the main opposition bloc won about 31 per cent.

The rest of the votes were divided among 11 parties that ran outside the two main coalitions.

The Democratic Party, the biggest opposition party, won just 20 per cent of the vote, the lowest ever result since it was founded.

The governing parties have usually won the vote in past local elections, using their ability to mobilize people and resources. However, the victory of the ruling coalition this time was much higher than usual.

Thanking the voters, Prime Minister and Socialist Party leader Edi Rama praised the conduct of the election, considering it the “best ever” in the country.

The election showed that “Albania was a normal country that conducted a totally normal electoral process, without serious troubles”, Rama said in his victory speech.

The ruling parties “have not pressured any public worker to participate in electoral gatherings as happened until 2013. This time, no public employee was under pressure to vote and to report his vote the day after,” Rama added.

Calling the result “historic”, Rama said that his government felt great responsibility for the 71 per cent of the 61 new municipalities that it will govern after the elections.

Opposition leader Lulzim Basha put a brace face on his team's defeat. “These elections marked a big step forward for the Democratic Party,” he said, a claim that was ridiculed by the government later.

Lamenting the allegedly poor standards of the election, Basha accused the ruling coalition of “massive vote-buying practices” and other irregularities.

International observers who monitored the elections under the guidance of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, ODIHR, mentioned some concerns while praising the relatively calm atmosphere on polling day.

“There were widespread allegations of pressure on voters, which together with observed instances on the Election Day, raised concerns about voters’ ability to cast their vote free of fear of retribution, contrary to OSCE commitments,” the mission stated.

Contrary to the Prime Minister's comments, the observers underlined the use of state activities and resources for the purposes of the government parties.

“A number of senior figures from the largest governing parties used state events and resources for campaign purposes, including handling out property legalization certificates, which blurred the separation between the state and the party and it is at odds with OSCE commitments,” the ODIHR statement read.