In the show ‘With a few words’ on Euronews Albania, Neritan Sejamini explained what the amendments to the Electoral Code, unilaterally approved by the Assembly, on October 5, specifically provide and how they will impact voters.
This is the eighth electoral reform since the fall of communism, . That is equivlaent to one reform every three years, more frequently than the elections themselves.
But how will the latest changes impact the way Albanian vote in the 2021 general elections?
Albania continues to have a regional proportional system: political parties compete in elections and vote in each of the 12 constituencies.
Seats in the Assembly are distributed to the parties according to the percentage of votes each received.
In each area, elections are held independently of the others. Each area has a defined number of mandates — from Tirana with 34, to Kukes with onlyhree.
Electoral reform changed three key features of the system:
- National electoral threshold
- The model of coalitions
- Ranking of candidates on electoral lists
Parties must receive at least 1% of the vote in all of Albania to gain the right to enter the Assembly. Previously this threshold was 3%.
The 1% threshold is among the lowest in the world. About 1.6 million voters took part in the last elections. The 1% threshold means only 16,000 votes are needed to elect one seat.
The most important change of the reform was the change from separate list coalitions to joint list ones. Coalition parties must submit only a joint list of candidates and register as a single electoral subject.
This means that voters will vote for the coalition, not for the parties within it, separately. This change, as we have explained before, makes coalitions more difficult.
The other and most complicated change of the reform is that of the electoral lists.
Parties will compile lists of pre-ranked candidates. Citizens will vote for the party and can vote for a candidate from the party list they voted for.
After the vote, the total votes of the party and the number of seats it will receive in the Assembly are calculated.
The list of party candidates is divided into two parts, the winning part, equal to the number of seats won, and the non-winning part, the rest of the list.
Each of the two parts is re-ranked, independently, according to the liking votes received by the voters. The seats won by the party are initially assigned to the persons in the winning part of the list.
A non-winning candidate can take the seat from the person who ranks last in the winning list, if he manages to get more votes than the average for each party seat. So the total votes of the party is divided by the number of mandates that the party has received. And if a non-winner gets more than that, he replaces the last one in the winning part of the list.
In practice this will rarely happen, but it is still an opportunity to break the party rankings.
Unfortunately, these three fundamental changes were not achieved by consensus. The political council agreed to improve election administration, but not to change the system.