Tirana (dpa) – In light of the population’s rather skeptical attitude to politics, Albanian citizens elected a new parliament on Sunday. According to the Central Electoral Commission in Tirana, 38 percent of the approximately 3.6 million eligible voters had cast their votes by 3:00 p.m.
That was 10 percentage points more than in the last election four years ago at the same time. At the time, the 45 percent turnout at the end of election day marked an all-time low.
In opinion polls, Prime Minister Edi Rama’s Socialist Party (PS) led the race for 140 parliamentary seats. After nearly eight years in power, he is looking for a third term in a row. The Ipsos Institute recently predicted 48 percent of the vote for the PS, practically the same as in the 2017 election.
Opposition leader Lulzim Basha’s National Conservative Democratic Party (PD) would receive 39 percent of the vote, ten percentage points more than four years ago. The also opposition Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) of the first woman Monika Kryemadhi can count on five percent (2017: 14 percent). President Ilir Meta is from the PS, but broke up with me in 2004 and founded the LSI, which he led until he became president in 2017.
The small Balkan country is deeply divided politically, the warring camps deny each other’s right to exist. The opposition accuses Rama of electoral fraud, corruption and involvement in crime. She has been boycotting parliament for over two years.
Their participation in the parliamentary elections was the result of a rare compromise between the two camps, which led to a reform of the electoral law. By using techniques such as biometric voter identification, this helps to reduce electoral fraud and the buying of votes. Diplomats from the EU and the US mediated intensively in the negotiations.
In any case, the top candidates on election day radiated confidence and optimism. “Today is a fantastic day,” said Rama as he settled the vote. “Democracy is a sport without spectators, in which everyone participates and everyone shoots their own penalty kick.” PD chief Basha made a similar statement: “Today is Democracy Day. Come all and make the change with your vote! “
Albania was a Stalinist dictatorship until the early 1990s. Since then, the country has fundamentally changed, pluralistic conditions and market economic conditions have arisen. In 2009 it became a member of NATO. Last year, the Heads of State or Government gave the Union the green light to start accession negotiations with the EU.
At the same time, inefficient administration, corruption and high levels of emigration make life difficult for citizens. Rama, who keeps promising improvements, tends to adopt an authoritarian style of government. Neither his socialists nor the opposition parties submitted election manifestos.