IBNA Special Report
Tirana, March 6, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
For 25 years, migrant workers have been deprived of voting in the country where they live. The political class has always made promises, but they have been forgotten along with election campaigns
By Edison Kurani
Local government elections are expected to be held on June 21. These elections follow the administrative-territorial reform which didn’t have the consensus of the opposition or the minorities.
The elections follow the parliamentary elections of 2013, when after 8 years, socialists came back into power.
General Director of Civil Registry Office, Bledi Boracaj, says that voters’ lists have been prepared and the total number is 3.367.075 people.
Out of them, due to their inaccurate address, around 313 895 people are being verified and their data corrected in the Civil Registry offices.
The 3,4 million total number of voters includes all citizens over the age of 18 entitled to vote, who have Albanian citizenship. This number is much higher than the total number of residents registered in the last Census in Albania, on 1 October 2011. According to the results of the Census, the number of people resident in Albania is 2 821 977.
This figure indicates a fall in the number of population with around 8% compared to the 2001 Census, when population was 3 069 275.
But why is the number of eligible voters above the age of 18 higher than the total number of population in Albania?
The explanation is simple: Many Albanians have abandoned the country and they do not vote.
However, migration is not an Albanian phenomenon. Almost all countries have found a solution in terms of exercising the right of vote.
In Albania, no political force has bothered to do this.
Daniela is a 39 year old woman living in Greece for around 21 years. She says that she’s disappointed of having never voted. “I know Greek people who live in Greece, but they vote in the country where they live, such as Germany, etc. For us Albanians, this is impossible. The only way to vote is to travel by bus to our country and vote whenever there’s an election. But it’s not easy to do this. This is why I have never voted up until today”, says Daniela, who works in a private company in Crete and who lives with her family.
Why Albanians around the world cannot vote and why do they appear in voters’ lists?
This issue has often been raised ahead of elections, especially by the right wing.
Former PM Sali Berisha demanded in April 2013 for emigrants to vote in the countries where they live. But such thing was not included in the Electoral Code. Berisha says that the vote of the emigrants is very important. “In Italy, the vote of Italians living in Argentina has determined the election result”, he says.
Berisha said that Rama lied to Albanian emigrants in the world, because he promised them the right of vote and didn’t vote the proposal which enabled such thing. Left wing opposition accused the majority of that time that it refused its proposal.
Socialist Party MP, Pirro Lutaj stresses the importance of the vote of emigrants.
“Emigrants must vote, because they must be stakeholders in political decisions taken for their country. They have contributed for many years for the wellbeing of their country, by bringing money, experience, values and ideas. But their word has never been heard and their interests have never been defended, in spite of their contribution given throughout the years”, Mr. Lutaj says.
In the 2013 general elections, the Socialist Party made a public promise to all emigrants, especially those living in Greece and Italy: “When we come to power, we will pass the bill on Foreign Vote, which will enable emigrants to vote in the country where they live, without them travelling to Albania”.
This promise seems to have been forgotten. The new elections are coming and nobody is talking about the vote of emigrants. /ibna/