Yesterday, the Albanian Parliamentary Assembly decided to amend the Constitution to allow open list voting for deputies of political parties. This was done while the country’s Constitutional Court is non-operational and has aroused significant public debate.
There is also the uncertainty that while the changes were supposed to allow citizens to vote on open lists, this may not actually happen. Exit News explains below
Currently, the candidates for MPs of a party are ranked in the list from first to last, by the parties. Voters only vote for the political party and from the list submitted in advance by the respective party. Deputies are appointed starting from the first in the list, depending on the volume of votes received by the party. The more votes the party receives, the more deputies from the list are chosen in descending order.
The approved amendments state that the list of deputies should be open, i.e. that the parties determine who is on the list but the voters decide which deputies take seats in Assembly. According to this principle, voters will vote for the party and the three candidates they want to win seats.
At the end of voting, the candidates for each party are ranked according to the number of the votes they have received.
The amendments passed in the Law Commission by the Socialist majority state that at least two-thirds of the list is subject to voters, meaning one third will be chosen by the party. This equates to potentially 47 MP candidates, while the rest belongs to the voters.
When the changes to the Electoral Code are made, it will become clear whether two thirds will be kept, or whether the whole list will be open and voters can choose from 140 deputies.
In the 2017 elections, the PS received 74 seats, the PD 44 seats and LSI 19 seats. If they are each allowed to choose 47 seats, this essentially means that the PD and LSI will not have open lists. Rather deputies will be chosen by the party. PS will have just 27 seats open to the public vote.
With the approved changes, Albania will be split into new administrative divisions and regions. The draft law approved by the Commission states the Assembly consists of 140 deputies who are elected according to the proportional system with the regional competition. Currently, Albania is divided into 61 Municipalities and 12 Regions. Changing this would require amending the law on territorial division and the Electoral Code.
No information has been given on the number of regions Albania will be divided into and their definition, or how subdivisions and Municipalities will be decided upon.