Re-runs of the 3 July parliamentary elections were held in three Albanian constituencies Sunday (21 August). The Central Election Commission (CEC) ordered the partial repetition of the poll due to voting irregularities that prompted more than 300 challenges of last month’s election results.
According to preliminary figures, between 30 per cent and 50 per cent of the about 80,000 people eligible to vote in the Shkodra, Lushnje and Gjirokaster election constituencies participated in Sunday’s poll. The CEC will reportedly announce the official results Tuesday.
The voting was generally calm and no major irregularities were reported. However, two reporters working for newspapers supporting the Democratic Party (PD) of former President Sali Berisha, are said to have been beaten by supporters of the ruling Socialist Party (SP) in the village of Cepun in Gjirokastra district, 225km south of Tirana. A suspect has been detained and four policemen who witnessed the scene but failed to take action have been suspended from duty, according to an AP report.
Also, several polling stations are said to have stayed open after 7 pm, the official closing time.
Albania is aspiring to EU and NATO membership. Both organisations have made it clear that elections in the country of 3.2 million people must be free and fair if it is to make further progress on its integration path.
Sunday’s vote, which was monitored by about 90 international election observers, is expected to clear the way for the final certification of the election results and for the formation of Albania’s new government.
President Alfred Moisiu has said that he would not convene the new parliament and give the mandate for forming a government until the CEC has fully certified all election results. This could happen as early as this week, provided there are no new challenges.
Berisha, 60, will head Albaniaâ€™s new government as the DP and its allies have already won 78 of the 140 seats in parliament. Therefore, the outcome of Sunday’s vote cannot undermine their majority even if outgoing Prime Minister Fatos Nano’s Socialists win the three parliamentary seats subject to the election re-runs.
Berisha has reportedly already chosen his team. His plans, according to Reuters, are to reduce the number of ministries from the current 20 to 14.
A cardiologist by training, Berisha became Albania’s first elected post-communist president in 1992. He was forced to step down in 1997 following the collapse of investment schemes that sparked violent riots in one of Europe’s poorest countries.
Berisha has pledged to speed up reforms needed for EU and NATO integration, to fight corruption and mass poverty, and to help small business.