News 05 Feb 13

EU Urges Free and Fair Albania Elections

Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule urged Albanian leaders on Monday to hold elections according to international standards, describing them as a crucial test of democracy.

Besar Likmeta
Stefan Fule

“The successful conduct of parliamentary elections in 2013 will be a crucial test for the smooth functioning of the country's democratic institutions,” Fule said following meetings in Tirana.

He called on local leaders to deliver elections in June in line with international standards, to improve the credibility and standing of democratic institutions and strengthen the accountability of politicians.

During his stay in Tirana he held meetings with President Bujar Nishani, Prime Minister Sali Berisha and with the chairman of the opposition Socialist Party, Edi Rama.  

Albania will hold parliamentary elections on June 23. The country has a long history of polls marred by electoral fraud, which have produced divisive political crises.

"Albania's entire process of EU-related reforms needs to be sustainable, inclusive and consensus-driven – for the benefit of all Albanian citizens," Fule stated after his meetings.

Although elections are months away, the ruling Democrats, led by Prime Minister Sali Berisha, and the opposition Socialists under Rama, are already at odds over poll standards. 

The Central Electoral Commission, CEC, remains divided on political lines and questions have emerged about whether it will be able to oversee a free and fair election process.

In a speech to his Democratic Party MPs, following Fule’s visit, Berisha said the government has the will to hold elections according to standards, but the opposition would contest them in the face of defeat anyway.

“We have all the conditions, the infrastructure and the iron will to hold free and fair elections,” Berisha said. “Nonetheless we have noticed that [Edi] Rama is preparing the excuse for his next loss,” he added.

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