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Albanian Opposition Parties Confirm Election Boycott

Albanian Opposition Parties Confirm Election Boycott
Central Election Commission (KQZ)

Yesterday night, the registration deadline set by the Central Election Commission (KQZ) for the registration of political parties passed without any of the opposition parties registering themselves for the upcoming elections. Earlier in the day, the opposition had announced a coalition of the main parties PD and LSI, as well as their smaller allies PR, LZhK, PDIU, PBDNj, PAA, and PDK.

Following the Electoral Code, the elections of June 30 will now go forward with the registered parties, which include the PS, as well as former President Bamir Topi’s FRD, Top Channel director Ben Blushi’s LIBRA, and possibly the “new” opposition party announced by former PD member Astrit Patozi, Democratic Conviction (BD).

Only a political agreement between the government and opposition can now avoid a scenario in which for the first time since 1991 the opposition fully boycotts the elections. In 2017, a last-minute agreement was struck between opposition and government after intense international pressure. This agreement, however, in the words of the OSCE-ODIHR report, “jeopardized the rule of law.”

“The implementation of the political agreement created challenges for the election administration and resulted in a selective and inconsistent application of the law. […] While the agreement contributed to a more inclusive electoral process and less polarized campaign, its implementation often jeopardized fundamental principles of the rule of law. […]  While largely inclusive, the candidate registration process suffered from selective and inconsistent application of the law and was, at times, based on the political agreement rather than the law. […]

However, the 18 May political agreement was given legal effect at the expense of the rule of law […]. All amendments were voted on in one day, contrary to the constitutionally-prescribed legislative procedure. At odds with OSCE commitments and Council of Europe standards, the process lacked transparency and consultation with stakeholders, while the late timing created significant difficulties in the implementation of key aspects of the election administration. Last minute legislative changes challenged legal certainty and undermined consistency of the legal framework as some of the new provisions were not harmonized with the Electoral Code.”

This will be the same lawless territory we are entering once again, two years later, with international actors weary of direct intervention as the EU Parliamentary Elections approach. Nevertheless, EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca has already scheduled a meeting tomorrow with the leaders of the opposition.

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