Electoral reform: Gov't – opposition clash continues

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 21, 2020 12:28

Electoral reform: Gov't  – opposition clash continues

TIRANA, July 20 - The five-hour meeting of the Political Council on Monday was concluded without any tangible solutions. The meeting was also attended by Prime Minister Edi Rama along with the senior representatives of the two oppositions, the Democratic Party and the SMI on the one hand and MPs Muslim Murrizi and Rudina Hajdari on the other.

Prime Minister Edi Rama spoke of "interesting discussions" following yesterday's meeting, while reiterating that for most, "opening the lists is not an alternative, but a commitment to the Albanians." He added that the majority must lead to the end the agreement signed on June 5.”

However, the non-parliamentary opposition claims that the June 5 Agreement cannot imply further interventions in the Electoral Code as a result of “unilateral constitutional changes" which is unacceptable according to Democratic Party Secretary General, Gazmend Bardhi. He added that they have asked the Prime Minister to let them know when the Agreement will be approved in the parliament "without any unilateral changes that undermine it."

On the other hand, deputy Rudina Hajdari, stated that the discussions between SP and DP representatives were only focused on the June 5 agreement and not on the opening of the party lists.

The SP and the parliamentary opposition agreed to an open-list system last week, which stipulates that the voters will be able to choose 2/3 of the deputies in the parties' list, while 1/3 will be decided by the political parties based on gender representation. Through this agreement, clauses 1 and 2 in articles 64 and 68 of the Albanian Constitution will be amended in order to provide open lists, but will make it impossible from now on to enter the elections with pre-electoral coalitions.

The current system favors coalitions by giving more value to the votes of small parties under the umbrella of a large party. However, in the current political system, avoiding coalitions seems to suit the Socialist Party better.

The government's decision to support the open list system was strongly opposed by the non-parliamentary opposition.

The Democratic Party stated that "the attempt to break the June 5 Agreement, achieved with the full support and mediation of the US-EU strategic partners, is the sole responsibility of Edi Rama." According to the statement, "any dirty game to secretly and unilaterally change the Constitution seriously threatens the political and social stability of the country."

The opposition clarifies that "it fully stands for the return to legal changes, without any change of the June 5 Agreement, as the minimum basis for creating a normalized environment for the elections in Albania."

Furthermore, the general secretary of the Democratic Party, Gazment Bardhi says that with the unilateral constitutional changes, Edi Rama wants to change the agreement and force the parties to compete as he pleases, with a joint list and not as he himself gave his consent in the June 5 agreement.

President Ilir Meta responded in the same line of thought as the parliamentary opposition, stating that the majority's initiative unilaterally breaks the agreement. He stressed that the current parliament has no legitimacy to make constitutional changes, while adding that the initiative itself was undertaken in violation of the Constitution, during a period of natural disaster, a time when acts are not allowed to change the basic law of the state.

Moreover Meta said that the proposals contradict the constitution, as Article 96 recognizes the pre-election coalitions. This way, President Meta will not recognize the amendments, if approved by the parliament.

"As a guarantor of the Constitution and the unity of the people, I call on everyone to be accountable and reflective, and at the same time I will exercise all my constitutional responsibilities to curb, paralyze and at the same time devalue such an unprecedented action in three decades of pluralism. Such a unilateral act will not be recognized by the Institution of the President of the Republic," Meta declared.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 21, 2020 12:28