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News 21 Apr 17

Albania Faces Election Without Opposition Parties

For the first time, the opposition parties have not registered to participate in the coming general election in June, raising serious questions about its likely credibility. 

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
Albanian Central Electoral Commission. Photo: LSA/Malton Dibra

Albania's Central Election Commission on Thursday refused to postpone a deadline for parties and coalitions to register for upcoming general election in June, leaving the ruling parties heading into the polls alone.

The general elections are therefore set to go ahead without the presence of opposition parties, which refused to register for the vote.

The political crisis arose in the middle of February when the opposition parties, led by the Democratic Party of Lulzim Basha, decided to boycott all parliamentary activities.

They then erected a protest tent in front of Prime Minister Edi Rama's office, calling on him to step down and allow a caretaker government to prepare the way for the June election.

After their demand was not met, the opposition parties refused to register to participate in the election, breaking the deadline that requires parties to register no later than 70 days before the date of the vote.

On Wednesday, another deadline was also passed after the ruling parties and others that had registered for the election failed to form any pre-election coalitions within the 60-day deadline to do so.

The majority parties claimed they were too busy trying to persuade the opposition parties to end their boycott, and said they wanted the deadline to register for the elections postponed.

On Wednesday, the two main ruling parties, Edi Rama’s Socialists and the Socialist Movement for Integration, LSI, asked the Central Election Commission to postpone the date for parties and coalitions to register by another week.

On Thursday, the seven members of the commission said the request fell beyond the jurisdiction of the institution and was a political maneuver.

"The request of two political parties to postpone the date ... to register and form coalitions is not based on any law," the chairman of the election commission, Denar Biba, declared.

Clirim Gjata, a former chairman of the commission, told BIRN that the institution could take no other decision - but admitted it was strange to go into an election in such a situation.

"If you are going to hold an election like this it will legal but not credible," Gjata warned.

"You cannot hold elections now like those held under communism, when the ruling party won more than 90 per cent of the votes," he added.

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