Albania MPs Call For Direct Presidential Election

Balkan Insight
Fecha de publicación: 
06 Jul 2016

A group of 11 MPs in Albania have made a joint call for the President to be elected by direct vote in future.

The initiative is being launched a year before the current President, Bujar Nishani, finishes his five-year term. The political parties leaders have yet to enter the negotiating process of selecting a successor.

The current constitution stipulates that the President of Albania is elected by a vote in parliament. The successful candidate must win three-quarters of MPs' votes, which is 84 out of 140 in total.

If this is not possible, after three attempts, the candidate who wins more votes than the others gets the post.

Giving that, in the end, the President can be elected by a simple majority of MPs' votes, the 11 MPs believe that moving to a system of direct popular election will result in a stronger and more legitimate presidency.

Tthe group of MPs launched a petition six days ago online and have since gathered more than 8,500 signatures.

"The current constitutional practice ... doesn't take into account the voice of the citizens who don't have the right to directly elect their President, as many other nations do," the online petition reads.

Mimoza Hafizi, a Socialist MP and one of the initiators of the petition, told BIRN that the overall aim is to empower their countrymen and women.

"Citizens in Albania have the right only to choose their mayors directlt, since even the MPs are presented to them on lists by the party leaders. Now is the time to expand democracy and give the country a more authoritative and stronger President," she said.

Hafizi also noted that if the President is directly elected, the party bosses will have no possibility to make political trade-offs in the process.

However successful the petition is, it can only put moral pressure on the parties to reconsider the current system.

The constitution can be amended only if at least 20 MPs ask for this to be done, and if 93 others then also give their approval.

"We know how difficult it is to change the constitution, but we are making every effort to put pressure on the politicians to do so, as we feel citizens really want this change," Hafizi said.

Afrim Krasniqi, director of the Albanian Institute for Political Studies, told BIRN that direct elections for the President would strengthen the office.

"This kind of election would make him more important, with more integrity, and help him better fulfill his role as a unifying national figure who can mediate in crises," he said.

Krasniqi said most republics in Europe elect presidents by citizens' direct vote, and the last four Presidents in Albania also supported this kind of election.

However, he also doubted that the initiative would make much headway soon.

"The two main parties have declared against a President elected by citizens, and next year the current [Socialist-led] parliamentary majority can easily elect a President from their own side. In politics, short-term interests are more important than longer ones," he said.

Fatjona Mejdini