Albanian Parliament to vote on judicial reform package

Daily Mail
Fecha de publicación: 
30 Jun 2016

Though lacking support from the opposition, the Albanian Parliament on Thursday passed a plan to bring a judicial reform package to a vote next month, a dangerous move that could bring down the government.

Lawmakers voted 71-to-38 to bring the matter to a vote before parliament closes its session at the end of July. The package is fundamental to ensuring the European Union will launch membership negotiations with Tirana.

If the vote fails, it could delay the matter from further consideration since when a constitutional amendment does not pass it cannot be voted on again for a year. Failure could also trigger fresh elections. And ultimately, failure would result in no EU membership talks this year as hoped .

The opposition Democratic Party wants the new laws to give political parties power to make judicial appointments, while the ruling Socialists want no party appointees.

The package includes constitutional amendments and the Socialists do not have enough votes to strike down the measure without opposition support in the 140-seat Parliament.

The U.S. has openly blamed Democrats' leader Lulzim Basha for not compromising as the ruling Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama has done.

U.S. and EU experts have been directly involved in drafting the legislation, and the process has also been reviewed by the Venice Commission, a body of legal experts with the Council of Europe, a human rights group.

In another move Thursday, the U.S. Embassy distributed to lawmakers a printed draft constitution with all the amendments planned in the judicial package, telling them it was only informative, not obligatory.

Both Brussels and Washington have openly urged individual opposition lawmakers to vote for the package, which the Democrats' leadership has strongly resisted, saying they may "burn" their mandates and abandon the parliament.

A day earlier German lawmaker Gunther Krichbaum of the Bundestag's Committee on the Affairs of the European Union went further, warning Tirana that a failed package would not only stop any hope of launching membership talks, but could lead Brussels to cancel the candidate status Albania got in 2014.

Associated Press