Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama declared victory for his Socialist Party and called for a public celebration as the counting of votes from the weekend’s bitterly-contested parliamentary elections draws to a close.
By Fjori Sinoruka*
Edi Rama wrote on Facebook on Tuesday that his party has won the parliamentary elections and called on his supporters and “whoever wants to join us celebrate the victory” to attend a celebration in the evening in Tirana’s central square despite concerns about the spreading of the coronavirus.
According to the latest results from Albania’s Central Election Commission, CEC, after around 95 per cent of the votes have been counted, Rama’s Socialist Party, which has stayed in power for the last eight years, has won 72 to 73 seats in the 140-seat parliament.
This gives Rama another slight majority in parliament, as the Socialist Party takes an unprecedented third term in the country since its first multi-party elections three decades ago.
Lulzim Basha’s main opposition Democratic Party, which led an election alliance of several smaller parties called the Alliance for Change, as well as the Social Movement for Integration, led by Monika Kryemadhi, the wife of the Albanian president, Ilir Meta, seem set to remain in opposition.
Together these two opposition blocs, which have announced a possible post-election alliance should they win, are projected to have 63 to 64 seats.
President Ilir Meta, who was the head of the Social Movement for Integration before he was elected president in 2017, and sided with the opposition during the tense election campaign, called for “prudence and calm” while waiting for all the votes to be counted.
“Although I was alone in the face of all the captured institutions, I managed to make [election day on] April 25 a quiet, peaceful day, without scenes of violence and with your massive participation to exercise the right to vote. Although it seemed an impossible challenge, I am happy that April 25 could serve the democracy and stability of the country,” Meta said on Tuesday.
Despite an election campaign that was marred by confrontational rhetoric and violence, including the murder of a local politician, only minor incidents were reported by police on polling day on Sunday.
The relative surprise in the election was a small party called the Social-Democratic Party, which was led by Tom Doshi, who has collaborated with Rama in the past.
The Social-Democratic Party is projected to win three seats in parliament. But after Doshi’s surprise resignation from the party helm on Monday, the seats it won are expected to boost Rama’s majority.
Doshi has been mentioned several times by the US ambassador to Tirana, Yuri Kim, as a politician who is banned from entering the US due to allegations of “significant corruption”. Rama was previously urged not to collaborate with Doshi, as he has resigned, the path to collaboration with the Social-Democratic Party seems open.
A report by international election monitors from OSCE/ODHIR said the voting on Monday and the counting process were accompanied only by smaller omissions and incidents. However, the report noted that vote-buying remains a serious problem in Albania, among other issues.
“The tone of the language used during the campaign by some leading politicians was confrontational, and at the same time, the media did not provide essential information for the voters to make their choice. The prevalence of vote buying throughout the country was also of concern,” it said.
The turnout in the elections haven’t been published yet, but according to the election commission’s last update, it was higher than at the 2017 general elections.