The Socialist majority has supported the request of the parliamentary opposition for some changes in the electoral process. The opposition has claimed that the move violates the electoral reform deal.
28 opposition MPs requested changes in the Albanian Constitution three weeks ago, asking for the following points to be included:
- MP candidates should be proposed by the electorate instead of political parties’ leadership; pre-electoral coalitions should be banned.
- Albania should be divided into regions, and there should be a regional proportional electoral system. The country is now divided into 61 municipalities and 12 districts.
- The electoral threshold for parties to enter parliament should be 5 percent of votes.
Prime Minister Edi Rama has agreed, and argued that they don’t need to change the Constitution or electoral system, but simply amend the Electoral Code.
The Parliamentary Committee of Legal Affairs adopted the request on Friday.
During a press conference today, Rama refuted claims that these changes would violate the electoral reform deal with the extra-parliamentary opposition. “The electoral system and the electoral districts won’t change, in accordance with the [electoral reform] deal. Opening MP lists is just an amendment. The idea that it affects the [electoral reform] deal is madness.”
Rama said the majority supports the proposals because a large part of the population has requested them. He added that the opposition Democratic Party and Socialit Movement for Integration felt threatened by opening MP lists to offer citizens a higher degree of choice.
In his reaction, Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha claimed that Rama has “essentially broken the [electoral reform] deal” facilitated by the US, EU and UK ambassadors.
He accused the 28 MPs in parliament of being marionettes in the hands of Rama.
Basha did not answer clearly regarding the opposition’s next steps in case the majority approves the said changes.
The electoral reform deal agreed earlier between the opposition and majority doesn’t seem to directly touch on the proposals at stake.