The Albanian Parliament has approved constitutional changes that stipulate partially open candidate lists and change the rules for pre-electoral coalitions.
116 MPs participated in the vote, with 106 voting for approving the changes. 10 MPs voted against and 6 were not present for the vote.
The constitutional changes were proposed by the 28 MPs of the parliamentary opposition and were supported by the Socialist Party (PS).
The proposed constitutional changes relate the partial opening of MP candidate lists for voters to choose their preferred candidates, and rank them in the list presented by the party. In the current system, voters can only vote for a fixed party list with MP candidates ranked by party leadership.
They will also change the Electoral Code in order to ban pre-electoral coalitions in their current form. Currently, coalition parties are allowed to run with separate MP candidates lists. They can transfer extra votes to other coalition allies when their candidate list is exhausted. With the approved changes, pre-electoral coalitions will only be allowed if coalition allies run with a single MP candidate list.
They were opposed by the extra-parliamentary opposition. The Democratic Party (PD) and the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) proposed fully opening candidate lists, but were against changing the rules for coalitions, electoral thresholds and electoral districts.
The extra-parliamentary opposition claims that changing the allowed pre-electoral coalitions to single candidate lists favors the ruling Socialist Party.
On Wednesday, the Socialist Party left the Electoral Reform Political Council meeting without managing to achieve an agreement with the opposition’s largest parties.
PD and LSI have continuously warned PS that unilaterally approving the constitutional changes and changing the ‘rules of the game’ mere months before the elections would constitute a violation of the electoral reform agreement reached on June 5, and would dismantle the possibility of uncontested elections and a new, uncontested government.