Local government elections in Albania end without any problems

Local government elections in Albania end without any problems

Tirana, 21 June 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

Polls for the local government in Albania have ended without any problems. The polling stations opened at 7 am and closed at 7 pm. Although, based on the law, when there are queues in the polling station, the voting continues beyond the official hours, it was not the case this time as there were not large numbers of voters.

Preliminary turnout figures vary from 40 to 50%.

The Central Election Commission has not yet issued official figures on turnout.

This year’s figures are expected to be lower than in the last polls, when turnout was 60%.

The counting of the votes is expected to start around midnight.

Facebook users have posted hundreds of photos where they have invalidated their ballot paper.

In these ballot papers, they have decided to mock political parties, to write messages of inferiority and messages of discontent against government and opposition.

While the counting of the votes is expected to start, a survey has been published by the Italian company IPR. It suggests that the left has won the municipality of Tirana and Durres, while the opposition has won Shkoder…

To be continued…

Local government elections held in Albania

Local government elections are taking place today in Albania. The polling stations opened at 7 am and until midday, participation seems very small, around 10%.

The voting will continue until 7 pm and if there are queues in polling stations, then the process will continue.

158 political and independent candidates run for 61 municipalities.

63 political parties are racing for municipality councils.

These are the seventh local government elections in Albania, following the fall of dictatorship in 1991.

3,370,206 Albanian citizens have been invited to vote in 5299 polling stations throughout the country. But according to the last Census, there are no more than 2,8 million citizens in Albania, as the rest is abroad.

Out of 3,3 million voters, there are around 1,7 million elligble voters in the country.

6700 police officers have been deployed to guarantee the process.

Around 3 thousand Albanian and foreign observers are following the entire process. OSCE/ODIHR has sent around 274 foreign voters.

The first hours of voting have been calm, but problems have not been lacking. In several areas, voting has been prevented due to the lack of voting materials, but also due to disagreements between commissioners of different political forces. Small incidents are reported every once and a while by parties, but they are insignificant to be able to affect the entire election process and result.

The main political leaders have appeared in the morning in front of the ballot boxes and have called not only on their supporters, but also to all voters for massive participation in the polls.

The first one to cast his ballot was the leader of opposition, Lulzim Basha. “I call upon all the citizens to massively participate in the voting process, to dedicate a few minutes of their time in order to cast their ballot. Your vote is your power and your decision, your judgment and the moment of your sovereignty. The decisions are taken by those who vote. Come and give your vote for your future, the future of your family and children. God bless Albania”, Basha said for journalists.

PM Edi Rama has reminded to voters about their responsibility to cast their ballot. “By voting, we participate in an important historical process such as the territorial reform. Regardless of who you vote for, all of those who vote are good citizens who deserve respect. Those who do not vote, have no right to complain”, Mr. Rama said.

Ahead of the June 21 elections, the US Embassy to Tirana warned its citizens, who are in Albania, to be careful during these days.

In an electronic message sent to them, it warns them about a possibility of protests. “American citizens must be aware of the possibility that crowds may gather in front of poll centers and counting centers and that spontaneous demonstrations may take place during the voting and during the days to come, once ballots are counted and the result has been announced”, the message said.

“We would like to remind American citizens that peaceful gatherings have the potential to turn into confrontations and precipitate to violence without any warning”, the announcement continues. The message reminds that “in the past, there have been isolated violent incidents during the elections”.

“American citizens must be alert and aware of their place of residence, to assess their personal safety and avoid political gatherings relating to the June 21 elections”, advises the US embassy to Tirana.

The embassy also warns that “demonstrations in one city have the potential to lead to other public rallies or demonstrations in other places in the country”.

Therefore, the US embassy demands to its citizens “to monitor local news and Albanian government announcements in relation to possible unrest relating to elections and announcements over other extra security measures that can be taken during the election period”.

The announcement has also sparked the interest of Albanian citizens, although it’s considered as a routine announcement by the American authorities for their citizens.

Figures and facts on the elections of 21 June 2015 in Albania

63 political parties are racing in these elections. The majority of them have grouped in two large coalitions: Alliance for European Albania, led by the Socialist Party, which has 37 political forces and People’s Alliance for Work and Dignity, led by the Democratic Party with 15 political forces.

There are 5299 polling stations in the country. Being the biggest municipality in the country, Tirana has the largest number of voters and 864 polling stations, while the municipality with the smallest number of polling stations is the Municipality of Polican with 26. 158 candidates are running for the 61 new municipalities along with 36 independent candidates.

These elections will be monitored by around 3 thousand observers, where the largest number belongs to ODIHR with 274 monitors.

63 political parties are racing in these elections.

These are the seventh local government elections in Albania following the overthrow of dictatorship in 1991.

3,370,206 Albanian citizens have been invited to vote in 5299 polling stations throughout the country. But according to the last Census, there are no more than 2,8 million citizens in Albania, as the rest is abroad.

Out of 3,3 million voters, there are around 1,7 million eligible voters in the country.

6700 police officers have been deployed to guarantee the process. The number of voters who have turned 100 years old until election date is 978, out of which, based on the provisions of the Electoral Code, only 310 of them have applied to be registered in the extract of the electoral components.

Attorney General publicly admits: The list does have criminals, but Albanian law allows it

Attorney General Adriatik Llalla backed today the declarations of the US ambassador to Tirana, Donald Lu, when he said that he has sent the list of incriminated candidates to the responsible institutions, noting that that a part of Albanian voters must elect between them today.

“In relation to the involvement of these individuals in the electoral process as candidates, we have issued a response.  The criminal law doesn’t forbid people with criminal records to run in the election process. With the process of decriminalization which has already started in parliament, this problem will receive a legal solution. There are concrete names in our list, who have been made to respective institutions, political parties and international officials”, said the General Attorney, Adriatik Llalla.

Prosecutor Llalla had a meeting today with the group of prosecutors who were on duty on election day. He said that so far, there’s haven’t been any charges pressed in any of the prosecution offices in the country. /ibna/