Albanian President Leaves Next Election Date to Political Consensus

On Monday, Albanian President Ilir Meta officially cancelled the June 30 local elections in the county. He had announced his decision on Saturday, prior to the start of an opposition protest against Prime Minister Edi Rama.

At a press conference today, Meta did not announce a new date for local elections, but instead called on political parties to negotiate a solution to the current political crisis, and agree on a new date for the election to take place.

The president also made his decree public, clarifying the reasons for his decision to cancel the June 30 election.

He stated that the Constitution gave the president the prerogative to decide on election date. Meta stated that in his capacity of the representative of the unity of the people, he had to cancel the election in order to avoid a potential conflict between supporters of the opposition and majority, or the opposition supporters and police. The current political crisis cannot lead to elections, according to Meta.

[…] having elections on June 30, 2019, without competition and without the opposition’s participation, – in violation of a key Copenhagen criteria for free and fair elections – would freeze the country’s EU integration progress, undermine any prospect of opening accession negotiations, would damage the image of the Republic of Albania as a NATO member and, its OSCE Chairmanship in Office in 2020 – while the OSCE’s electoral standards are essential for the Organization.

Furthermore, Meta added that holding elections without the opposition would violate the principle of political pluralism.

[…] holding local government elections on June 30, 2019, without the participation of the opposition, which represents at least half of the Albanian electorate, violates some constitutional principles that enjoy special constitutional protection.
This clearly shows that this election process is fictitious and is an additional element that proves the fact that the expected democratic standards not only are fulfilled but they are violated in a fragrant way.

Following President Meta decree and call on political parties to sit in negotiations, the governing Socialist Party decided to start procedures for his dismissal. This is not the first time that an Albanian president has cancelled and postponed elections.