Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has refuted the European Commission’s claim that there is no time for changes in the electoral process, outside those agreed with the opposition.
On Friday, the Socialist majority of Rama agreed to support some proposals by the parliamentary opposition. They had asked the parliament to open MP lists, ban pre-electoral coalitions, set a 5 percent threshold for political parties to enter the parliament and redraw the electoral map.
The decision by Socialists comes after they have agreed on a electoral reform deal with the extra-parliamentary opposition, which hasn’t been adopted in parliament yet.
The extra-parliamentary opposition claims that the proposed changes would violate their recent agreement, which constitutes one of the conditions for the start of EU accession talks with Albania.
European Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi was quick to respond to the news by arguing that there is no time for such changes, which need to be made at least one year ahead of elections.
…a key condition to start EU accession negotiations. Further reforms related to the electoral system, outside of scope of OSCE/ODHIR recommendations, would need to be in place at least one year before the elections & require proper consultation, as recommended by @OSCE. (2/2)
— Oliver Varhelyi (@OliverVarhelyi) July 10, 2020
Elections in Albania are expected to be held in one of the following two periods: April 15 – May 15 or October 15 – November 15, 2021.
Rama replied to Várhelyi during a press conference on Friday, suggesting that one full year is not an absolute condition.
“If this is about one full calendar year then we shouldn’t also approve the [electoral reform] deal; that is to say, if we think in terms of there being less than a year until the next elections. If we’re using “one year” as a reference, then we have to use it on all matters, as long as we are talking of election matters,” he said.