ODIHR, the state of politics in Albania

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 6, 2019 14:08

ODIHR, the state of politics in Albania

Story Highlights

  • “Many candidates expressed to the ODIHR Election Observation Mission the difficulty of motivating voters to vote. Limited campaign activities remained overshadowed by country-wide developments that further deepened early political divisions. Debates on a wide range of political topics were dominated by the issue of non-participation in the elections of the main opposition parties and discussions over the election date,” the ODIHR reports.

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TIRANA, Sept. 5 – The OSCE/ODIHR stated in its final report that the June 30 local elections in Albania were held without much regard for the electorate’s interest. 

The opposition decided not to participate, and the government appeared determined to hold the elections without the opposition, the report notes.

“In a climate of stalemate and political polarization, voters were unable to choose between several political options,” the report said.

The ODIHR Election Observation Mission assessed with this final report the compliance of the Albanian elections with OSCE commitments, obligations and other international standards for democratic elections and national legislation.

In half of the municipalities, the candidates ran without opponents, while observers received credible claims from citizens for pressure from both political sides.

“Political clashes led to legal uncertainty and many election administration decisions were taken with the objective of holding elections,” the ODIHR report said.

Observers said many previous ODIHR recommendations remain unaddressed, including the depoliticization of election commissions, the transparency of campaign financing and the efficiency of resolving electoral disputes.

“The political equilibrium provided by law within the election administration was not achieved due to the refusal of the main opposition parties to nominate their commissioners and the subsequent interpretation of the CEC that only those parties participating in the elections could be represented in the election administration. The politically unbalanced composition of the election administration, calls by opposition parties to boycott the election and conflicting interpretations of the validity of the President’s decrees annulling the June 30 elections undermined public confidence in the process,” the ODIHR report said.

Observers claimed that the language used by political opponents in rallies and in the media was often raging and full of accusations and counterclaims.

“Citizens, especially those working for public administration, faced direct and indirect pressure to express their political preferences,” the report said.

Observers claimed the election campaigning was nonexistent; other than posters on voter education, the ODIHR only noticed a small number of posters and other signs pointing to elections coming close.

“Many candidates expressed to the ODIHR Election Observation Mission the difficulty of motivating voters to vote. Limited campaign activities remained overshadowed by country-wide developments that further deepened early political divisions. Debates on a wide range of political topics were dominated by the issue of non-participation in the elections of the main opposition parties and discussions over the election date,” the ODIHR reports.

The report says the vote on June 30 came after a series of announcements by most opposition-led municipalities that elections would not take place.

“Some mayors have tried to use their powers to prevent the use of public buildings as polling stations. In a small number of polling stations there were arson damage before Election Day,” the ODIHR said.

According to international observers, election day was generally peaceful, despite isolated cases of tensions and clashes in a small number of communities.

“Voter turnout varied from one municipality to another, while nationwide, the CEC stated it reached 21.6 percent,” the report said.

The OSCE / ODIHR had about 250 observers in the June 30 local elections in Albania, and the report was widely expected by the public and political parties, which are still debating their validity. 

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 6, 2019 14:08