Albanian Majority And Opposition Clash Over Constitutional Amendments And Electoral Reform

Albanian Majority And Opposition Clash Over Constitutional Amendments And Electoral Reform

Albanian majority and opposition have clashed over the constitutional amendments expected to be approved by the Socialist majority. The extra-parliamentary opposition claims that amendments violate the electoral reform agreement that awaits parliament’s approval.

The proposed constitutional changes relate the opening of MP candidate lists for voters to choose their preferred candidates, and rank them in the list presented by the party. 

In the current system, voters can only vote for a fixed party list with MP candidates ranked by party leadership.

Socialists have also argued that they will change the Electoral Code in order to ban pre-electoral coalitions in their current form.

Currently, coalition parties are allowed to run with separate MP candidates lists. They can transfer extra votes to other coalition allies when these votes are not enough to win a seat in parliament.

The majority plans to allow pre-electoral coalitions only if coalition allies run with a single MP candidate list.

They will also change the electoral threshold for parties to enter the parliament but details are yet to be decided.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Edi Rama argued that his majority was burdened with approving an electoral reform in accordance with ODIHR recommendations, but it was not conditioned to approve all demands of the extra-parliamentary opposition.

He said that Albania’s EU path is not in danger if they change the Constitution without the opposition’s agreement. Approval of electoral reform, not of their agreement with opposition, is an EU condition for EU accession talks, Rama added.

He criticized Johann Wadephul, the deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in Bundestag, for calling on Albania’s parliament to refrain from changing the Constitution. 

“Wadephul’s reaction was ethically disappointing, institutionally hasty and politically unbalanced […] He greatly underestimates the Albanian parliament, considering it as a notary with no right to speak. The [electoral reform] agreement [with the opposition] cannot hinder the parliament to go beyond it,” Rama stated.

He then attacked President Meta, who also called on the majority not to change the Constitution, reminding them that the parliament is not fully legitimate with only 122 of the necessary 140 MPs. Rama replied that, in that case, they cannot even approve the electoral reform agreement in this parliament, which Meta is urging them to do.

Rama went on to claim that his party had made a favor to the opposition by agreeing with all their requests, and that the agreement will pass parliamentary vote without any changes. However, Rama insisted that they will also change the Constitution, as the two issues are unrelated.

Contrary to Rama’s claims, the extra-parliamentary opposition argues that changes planned by the Socialist majority and parliamentary opposition violate the electoral reform agreement.

Albanian Majority And Opposition Clash Over Constitutional Amendments And Electoral Reform

Gazmend Bardhi of the Democratic Party (PD) published articles 19 and 36 of the agreement, which stipulate that each coalition party can run with separate lists of MP candidates, and that in such cases extra votes can be transferred from one coalition ally to another.

The opposition sat in talks on electoral reform with the majority after international partners guaranteed that the agreement would be passed in parliament and implemented without changes.

After a meeting with President Meta on Wednesday, opposition leader Lulzim Basha accused Rama of putting Albania’s European future at risk by violating the electoral reform agreement.

It remains unclear how the opposition will react if the Socialist majority goes ahead with their plan.

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