The ODHIR observer mission prepared a provisional report on the progress of the electoral process in Albania. The report is of fundamental importance for the progress of the country towards the EU, in fact it was prepared together with the group of observers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE and by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The report criticizes slowness in ballot counting and other observations related to government pressure on the electoral process and the work of the Central Electoral Committee.
The 23 June Albanian parliamentary elections were very competitive, with active citizen participation throughout the campaign and genuine respect for fundamental freedoms. However, the atmosphere of distrust between the two main political parties has partly contaminated the whole electoral context, putting the management of the entire electoral process to the test, according to some international observers.
Furthermore, this process has had to deal with the boycott of the Central Electoral Commission by opposition minorities following the controversial dismissal of one of its members, which - according to the report - has led it to take the major decisions without
the necessary quorum.
Roberto Battelli, special coordinator who led the OSCE observation in the short term, argues that "It was a crucial election that offered the possibility of a real choice for the Albanians at a critical time for the country. People longed to express their will. "
Sixty-six political parties - most of them allied to one of the two main parties - and two independent candidates registered to participate in a broadly inclusive process that offered voters a choice. The mutual accusations between the two main parties, however, have often distracted attention from the true substance of the electoral campaign.
"Yesterday," says Luca Volontè, head of the delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe - the Albanians demonstrated their faith in the democratic process and their hope for a European future. Now it is time for political leaders to show that they deserve the trust granted to them by respecting the results of the elections, working together with a sense of responsibility in the new parliament for new democratic standards and facing socio-economic challenges. Such a sense of responsibility is fundamental in Albania to reach its goal Europe and should be demonstrated and carried forward for all future years of parliamentary and governmental efforts. "
On election day, the vote took place relatively well, although there were several irregularities in the procedures. For example, those counting have been delayed in various areas because of the officers in charge of this operation.
The large presence of citizens and observers throughout the day, in general, seems to have favored transparency; nevertheless - the report highlights - there were some interferences in the electoral process. The most serious episode is certainly the killing of a supporter of a political party in Laç, but also other isolated cases of violence marked the beginning of the voting operations.
The report also highlights a pluralistic media environment that is able to offer a variety of content that has given voters the opportunity to make an informed and informed choice, keeping the progress of the campaign under control. However, editorial independence was hampered by the influence of politics: although public broadcasts guaranteed equity among the major parties, a more positive tone was still found for the current one.
As Conny McCormack, head of OSCE / ODIHR long-term observation, says voters have the right to expect professionally and impartially managed elections. "During our observation over the past six months - continues McCormack - we have seen the policy permeate the local elections at every level. The ODIHR mission will remain in Albania also in the next period to observe also the last phases of the process. "