From: Alice Taylor
Varhelyi Asks Parliament to Consider Venice Commission Opinion, Rama Says No

EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi has called on Albanian Parliament to wait for the opinion of the Venice Commision before passing the amendments to the Electoral Code.

He wrote on Twitter that Parliament should consider their advice before proceeding with the second vote. Varhelyi added he looks forward to free and fair elections in 2021.

On 5 October, the Socialist Parliamentary majority unilaterally voted to amend the electoral code. The amendments were sent to President Ilir Meta who said they were unconstitutional and sent them back to Parliament. Parliament would then have the choice whether to heed the comments of the President, or pass without changes.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Edi Rama said that no changes would be made to the amendments and it would be passed for the second vote as soon as possible.

Meta had also called on the government to wait for the opinion of the Venice Commission. He sought their opinion on a number of matters in the hopes of avoiding another political crisis.

His questions included:

  • Can rules related to the transformation of votes be changed unilaterally after the election process has started?
  • If the rules regarding the transformation of votes into mandates change very close to the elections, do these changes damage or affect the stability of the law?
  • Do these changes compromise the electoral process and political stability?
  • In the principle of procedural guarantees violated if such changes are made in the absence of a constitutional court?
  • Is the candidacy of the mayor in four regions according to European standards?
  • Do the current rules prevent the introduction of open lists for voters?
  • If open lists are approved and coalitions remains the same, would Albanian legislation be in line with that of the EU?

Rama responded to Varhelyi’s comments in his own Twitter post. In them, he said there is no time to wait for the Commissons opinion before the next election.

“The Venice Commision’s opinion I always welcome, but for a law voted on and rejected by the President, the procedure is lear: Teh President’s refusal is accepted or rejected by parliament.” Parliament will re-elect the amdnemtns without losing a single day.”

He added:

“…the time for these elections does not wait for a day outside of the procedures.”