Election Commission Violates the Law by Excluding Opposition From Electoral Boards

Last week, the Central Election Commission (KQZ) refused, with a majority vote of 4–1, to include the candidates of the opposition in the Commissions of the Electoral Administration Zones (KZAZ). The KZAZs are responsible for coordinating the voting and vote-counting in each voting district.

According to Electoral Code art. 29(1), the KZAZ consists of  7 members:

  • 2 members from the largest majority party
  • 1 member from the second largest majority party
  • 2 members from the largest opposition party
  • 1 member from the second largest opposition party
  • 1 member from the largest majority for 50% of the KZAZ; 1 member from largest opposition party for the other 50%

The problem is that the Electoral Code fails to define the terms “majority” and “opposition.” However, “parliamentary party” is defined as “a political party that has obtained and holds at least one Assembly seat from the preceding elections” (art. 2(12)). Following this definition, the Democratic Party is still the largest opposition party, even though most of its MPs have resigned from their mandates.

According to the latest parliamentary vote, there are currently 121 MPs in Parliament, out of 140 MPs. These include 17 former LSI members and 25 former PD members, which are part of 3 parliamentary groups. Only one of these qualifies as a “party” under the definition of Electoral Code art. 2(12), which is the LSI, represented by Lefter Koka and Edmond Rrushi. The Democratic Group and Independent Group are not to be considered a “parliamentary party,” because they didn’t win any seat in the previous elections.

However, 19 seats in Parliament are still vacant, which means they technically belong to the parties that won them. This means that, again according to the Electoral Code and the composition of Parliament as of May 23, the PD and LSI are still the largest opposition parties, meaning that they have the right to nominate KZAZ members, a right which now has been denied by the KQZ.

Although it is as yet unclear on the basis of which argument the KQZ has refused the opposition its legal right (the decision has not yet been published), the fact of the matter is that precisely this issue – the political appointments to the KZAZ – should have been fixed by the Electoral Reform. OSCE-ODIHR has recommended several times that KZAZ members be impartial, thus avoiding precisely situations such as the current one.

The rejection of the opposition’s KZAZ members will therefore most likely enforce the opposition’s position that the upcoming elections are illegitimate.