From: Exit News
Opposition Parties Propose Electoral College Judges Forego Vetting to Ensure Impartiality

The Opposition has asked the Political Council on Electoral Reform that Electoral College judges not undergo vetting for four years.

According to the Democratic Party and the Socialist Movement of Integration (LSI), this will ensure that the Electoral College will be freed of the pressure of vetting, making it truly independent of the government.

The two opposition parties claim that this is one of the main recommendations of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), intended to remove the electoral process from under the pressure vetting exerts.

The Political Council on Electoral Reform, consisting of co-chairs Damian Gjiknuri and Rudina Hajdari, as well as opposition representatives Oerd Bylykbashi and Petrit Vasili, will meet today to discuss the request.

In a final report regarding the June elections, ODIHR noted that Electoral College judges could have their independence impacted by the ongoing vetting process. As a result of this process, the college was obligated to operate with only 6 out of its intended 8 members. 

Furthermore, as a result of the vetting process, the Constitutional Court remains nonfunctional and was thus unable to review constitutional issues that arose during the elections.

Therefore, one of ODIHR’s main recommendations was that “[all] courts that have competency in elections should be fully operational during the electoral periods” and “[the] independence and the impartiality of the Central Election Commission and the judiciary should be ensured.”

The opposition claims it is currently impossible for the judicial body dealing with the elections to remain unaffected from the pressure of the vetting process. Seeing as there is no fixed list delineating which judge will undergo the process at that time, every member of the judiciary currently operates under the pressure of a sudden vetting procedure targeting them, even if they are judging important electoral matters.

The opposition parties propose that Electoral College judges undergo vetting only once their 4-year term on the council has ended.

Additionally, the Democratic Party proposes that the Electoral College also include judges from First Instance Courts and that members should have at least 7 years of experience.