Ruling party unilaterally amends constitution

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 30, 2020 14:52

Ruling party  unilaterally amends constitution

TIRANA, July 30 - The constitutional amendments which stipulate the open-list electoral system and the banning of pre-electoral coalitions in Albania, were approved by the government in the latest plenary session.

A majority of 106 deputies voted in favor of the amendments and only 6 voted against the proposal in Thursday's parliamentary session.

The SP and several other MPs initially agreed to an open-list system weeks ago, 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 previous system favored 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, as this increases the probability of obtaining a third mandate by

Furthermore, these constitutional amendments were approved almost two months after the Socialist Party and the extra-parliamentary opposition reached a lawful agreement regarding the electoral code - yet in this case no consensus was given out by neither of the two main opposition parties.

At the same time, these constitutional amendments were approved with an urgency which contradict the OSCE/ODHIR recommendations, stating that no fundamental changes can be made less than a year prior to the elections. Nevertheless, the SP and a good amount of other MPs whose mandates may even be considered illegitimate, have followed through with their proposals, despite being under fire by several voices.

"A unilateral act"

The Democratic Party and their allies have strongly opposed the constitutional changes, stating that they will not endorse them.

In a press release, the chairman of the Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha stated that the changes are unacceptable and are not binding on the opposition.

"The changes are unacceptable and are not binding on the opposition and the Albanians," he stated.

Basha said that the Assembly today violated the constitution, laws and consensus reached on June 5. He further added that Rama is not opening the lists and that he rejected the opposition's proposals regarding the lists and coalitions.

President Ilir Meta also opposed the approval of the Constitutional changes and openly attacked the international community, accusing them of participating in a coup.

"The violent amendment of the Constitution annulled the consensual agreements of 14 January and 5 June that enabled an inclusive process and product, again blowing up the trust between the parties, the social peace in the country and the process of European integration of Albania," he wrote.

He added that "the opportunistic and hypocritical rhetoric of some internationals goes against the aspiration and strategic project of the Albanians to build a European future."

The international community

Ana Pisonero, spokeswoman for the European Commissioner for Enlargement, Neighborhood and International Partnership, expressed discontent that there was no consensus reached between the parties, stating that it is important that amendments to the Electoral Code regarding the threshold percentage of open lists and coalitions be discussed in an inclusive and collaborative manner in the Political Council.

On his part, German Ambassador to Tirana Peter Zingraf urges political parties to co-operate in the legal implementation of constitutional changes to the Electoral Code and to respect the June 5 agreement.

"I express my regret that despite the reached June 5 agreement, now lawfully established, the electoral reform that was successfully launched is again taking on conflicting features through constitutional changes. I respect the institutional role of parliament, but at the same time I understand that the agreement of June 5 resulted in legitimate claims for an inclusive dialogue," Ambassador Zingraf wrote.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 30, 2020 14:52