There are 1.3 million eligible Albanian voters living outside of the country but it seems they will not have the right to vote in the 2021 general election.
In the last general election in 2017, some 1.6 million people inside Albania voted. This is just 300,000 more than the total number of eligible voters in the diaspora. From this, we can say that if diaspora voters were given the vote, they would have a significant impact on the outcome of any elections.
Albania has one of the largest diaspora’s in the world with an estimated 1.64 million of them living in other countries. Today, the only way for those eligible to vote to do so is if they come to Albania to cast their vote in person.
If 1.3 million of them were to cast their vote, it could drastically change the political scene in the country. Those living abroad are less under the control or pressure of domestic politics and are not as dependent on the current ‘tribal’ party system. Enabling the diaspora vote would also likely increase the accountability to which MPs and political parties are held.
With general elections scheduled for 25 April 2021, it is unlikely that the diaspora will be given the right to vote from outside the country. As per Albanian law, the decision should be made by the Central Election Commission but they have requested consensus from political parties through fear of compromising the legitimacy of the elections. So far, the political parties have been able to agree or come to any decision on registering emigrant voters.
Activists from Diaspora for a Free Albania Floriuuan Hackaj and Bledar Milaqi believe that political parties somewhat fear the diaspora vote. Parties have little to no control over how the diaspora would vote and as it accounts for such a large percentage of available votes this is concerning, they told Neritan Sejamini.
But their vote is important said Hackaj as giving them the vote puts the power of the diaspora beyond just remittances.
Both activists stressed that the participation of the diaspora in the elections will increase the accountability of MPs as they underlined the fact that most Albanians abroad are well educated, numerous in number, and that they are not in the middle of political polarization within the country.
The Diaspora for a Free Albania assisted the CEC with research on models of how emigrants can register and vote abroad. But the disagreement of the political parties and the controversies between them over technical issues caused the deadlines for the realization of the diaspora vote to be exceeded.