Editorial/Your vote is your power!

Editorial/Your vote is your power!

By Bujar Nishani

President of Republic

This Sunday on June 21, we are invited to once again exert our right of free vote, our biggest asset in an open democratic society that we have been building for years. We will elect the new mayors and new council members. Each of us will manifest his conviction, freedom of judgment, responsibility of choice. We will all serve to our young democracy.

It’s an undeniable fact that since 1992, elections have been the promoter of democratic developments in the country. The free vote has been and remains the locomotive of these developments. Free elections, despite the numerous problems, have consolidated the standard of accountability by those who are elected. They have raised civil awareness about the extraordinary value and importance of the vote. In essence, despite the known obstacles, this is a success story, which we must take forward with resolution on Sunday’s elections and onward, aiming the most advanced European standards.

My message to you, honorable citizens of my country, is for you to massively participate in these polls, to freely and resolutely exert your sovereign right of choice and decide with your free vote on the best alternative for your municipality in order to guide policy making toward your concerns, to change and improve your life. This is the mission and the obligation of every responsible citizen. The free vote gives life to a public judgment of power and raises their accountability in front of the citizens. Indifference, lack of participation and even worse, the sale of vote, increase the level of irresponsibility of the people in power.

I am convinced that Albanians will find the strength and courage to offer their example and contribution toward democracy in the country. The free vote is the victory of democracy.

I’d like to take this occasion to congratulate the candidates for the 61 future municipalities of the country for promoting the best values of their communities and for their ambitious programs.

As President of Republic, I’d like to call on political leaders to offer positive messages to their voters at the end of this campaign, inviting them to decide in a calm way about the best alternatives proposed by candidates in line with constitutional guarantees of an equal and fair race. In this context, all sides have the responsibility of a positive reflection. The government has an added responsibility to organize the elections. I’m convinced that the Prime Minister will offer his message to guarantee the freedom of choice for the citizens, on the neutral role of the State Police and Public Administration, on the rights and liberties enshrined on the Constitution and on his obligation to guarantee cooperation without being influenced by the central government.

The electoral test of June 21, almost a year after being granted the EU candidate status, must serve as our main investment for the opening of talks for accession in the European Union.

Based on denouncements and information provided by MPs and other sources, I would like to address to the heads of the electoral administration, independent institutions and State Police, Public Administration employees and civil society, to be engaged in their daily work in line with the laws of the country in order to secure a normal process. Their role in this process is crucial and constantly monitored by our international partners. This was also noted by the interim report of OSCE/ODIHR Interim Report. Every action against the laws of the country and democratic principles will damage the electoral process, which is very important to increase trust on institutions and to launch negotiations for accession in the European Union.

As President of the Republic of Albania, on behalf of Albanian citizens, I’d like to take this opportunity to express to our international partners my utmost gratitude for their engagement and contribution in the 2015 electoral process in Albania. I’d like to thank the United States of America, Ambassador Donald Lu, whose stances are guiding not only Albanian politics, but also voters, asking them not to sell their vote and for candidates or representative with criminal records to be removed as candidates. I would like to invite all diplomatic centers in Albania to have their say on these phenomena, which do not represent and cannot represent our European identity and heritage.

The right of vote is the best guarantee of those freedoms and liberties which have been earned by the Albanian people throughout the years: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, the right of property and equality in front of the law, accountability, all those rights and liberties that make up for our guarantees and responsibilities for the construction of our joint future.

Therefore, I’d like to reiterate my appeal to all Albanians with my unwavering belief and conviction: Exert your right of vote in an independent and free way on Sunday, 21 June 2015 and do not alienate your vote, do not sell your vote! Your vote is your sovereign power, your vote is your dignity.

**Message of the head of the state addressed to Albanians on the occasion of the local government elections of 21 June 2015