We have recordings of crime boss Astrit Avdylaj telling Head of the Water Management Agency in Durrës, Ivo Doçi: “summon [your employees] and I will shake them up. Either they keep their jobs and vote for us, or they go home.”
We have also heard Arben Keshi, then Director of the Center for Illegal Foreigners at the Ministry of Interior Affairs, tell Director of the Regional Education Directorate in Dibra, Drini Gjeçi:
Come on, call them one by one. Tell them on Monday [after the elections] they will all go to waste! Call them all, one by one! Tell them you will report to me about who you have been calling. […] Listen up, women, men, whatever. We will remind them all one by one, all the teachers, according to the list that you have brought there, if they want to be at work on Monday – if they do not want to, let them go to their motherfucking hole, fuck them!
We have heard tapes of former Socialist MP and current mayoral candidate in Lezha, Pjerin Ndreu, demanding from Gjeçi:
Call this Reshat Elezi, from Reçi [village in Dibra]. Tell this school director to openly declare the vote, because what he is talking up and down is not very pleasant. Tell him: declare openly that you vote for the PS, otherwise on Monday he will be kicked out of his job!
These clear proofs of voter intimidation have so far failed to lead to any indictment by the Prosecution Office, even though Penal Code art. 328/a prohibits public servants from being involved in electoral activities (such as voter intimidation), and art. 329 prohibits “intimidating a voter to vote in a certain way, or to participate or not participate in voting.”
Nevertheless, multiple reports have appeared in the mainstream media in recent days that the Socialist government is openly pressuring public servants and other citizens to vote during the upcoming local “elections.”
Because the elections have officially been canceled by President Ilir Meta, the Socialist Party is eager to make sure a lot of people show up at the polls to vote for the only available (Socialist) candidate, in an attempt to legitimize the vote by show of numbers.
In particular, photographs have appeared from a so-called “Personal Patronage Form” allegedly used by Socialist Party, suggesting that the PS is intimidating citizens to participate in the vote, in violation of Penal Code art. 329, by recording their personal details on a form.
The notes below the table state the following:
In the top part the data of the patron are filled in, the person which fills in the form and guarantees and holds the responsibility that the persons listed on the form (the voters) will present themselves to vote on June 30, 2019. Patrons can be heads of OS, Directors of other PS structures ([youth organization] FRESSh, Women, Veterans, Military, etc.), Directors of institutions, electoral Coordinators, People with influence in the region, remarkable People that have the desire and energy to do personal patronage, etc.
It is unacceptable that anyone, be that a party official, public servant, or ordinary citizen stands guarantee and is held personally responsible for the voting behavior of anyone else. Additionally, it is a punishable offence that “directors of institutions” are actively involved in this electoral campaign.
The form is explicit about the fact that the information on the form should be “real”
In the third column the meeting place is filled out. This information is requested to eliminate fictional declarations.
This instruction not only suggests that those receiving the form are expected to fill it out with real (and not “fictional” data), but also the Socialist Party apparently has a surveillence system in place to control the actions of those within its “patronage” network. This is an alarming development that approaches the “free vote” enjoyed by the Albanian citizens during the communist dictatorship.
This form alone should be enough evidence for the Prosecution Office to start an investigation into voter intimidation and abuse of public resources in the 2019 electoral campaign, and should ring serious alarm bells with the EU and OSCE-ODIHR.