Albania’s opposition Democratic Party (PD) has completed its analysis of the April general elections and the factors that contributed to the party’s loss.
The final report presented by General Secretary Gazmend Bardhi to PD Leadership on Thursday detailed a number of reasons for the loss, which supported the party’s stance that an “electoral massacre” was committed by the Socialist government of Edi Rama.
The PD achieved its objective in 8 of the country’s 12 districts, where its results were comparable to those of previous elections. In Tirana, Durres, Shkoder, and Gjirokaster, however, results were lower than planned.
The April 25 elections resulted in a third term for the Socialist Party who was able to keep a majority in parliament, gaining 74 of 140 seats. The opposition will occupy 63 seats in total – the PD 59 and the Socialist Movement for Integration 4. The 3 remaining seats were won by the Social-Democratic Party, an ally of the PS.
The opposition contested the results and requested repeat elections, but they were rejected by the Central Election Commission (CEC), who concluded that the party was unable to provide evidence for its claims that the elections were rigged.
The results of the analysis were a summary of the complaints the opposition had already presented to the electoral administration, and which were rejected by CEC and an appeal panel.
They included the opposition’s assessment that the government used state resources during the electoral campaign in a way that influenced the election result to the ruling party’s advantage.
Another factor leading to the opposition’s loss was the Socialist Party’s mobilization of a network of members who gathered information on all individual voters’ political preferences. An alleged database leaked to the press before elections included 900 thousand voters’ personal data. Through the combined use of these two tools, the ruling party exercised pressure on voters and offered them favors in exchange for their vote, the report claims.
Unilateral changes in the electoral law shortly before elections were another blow to the opposition.
The PD maintained that the government purposefully had planned to pay compensation money to the victims of the November 2019 earthquake right before the elections as a form of vote-buying.
The party also claimed that a number of concession contracts awarded to private companies, as well as public works done during the electoral campaign, violated the law.
The opposition stressed that a government order requiring all visitors to quarantine for two weeks amounted to voter suppression, as it made it impossible for Albanians living in Greece and North Macedonia to vote, they claimed.
A complicated ballot paper approved by the CEC controlled by the Socialists also contributed to the opposition loss, according to the analysis.
Criminal gangs were allegedly employed by the Socialist Party to buy votes. The report reiterates earlier claims by the opposition that the government left drug cartels free to operate during their two terms in office. In exchange, criminals bought votes for the Socialists in the last election. The election was also allegedly marred by “representatives of criminal groups” in the Socialist Party’s list of candidates.
Finally, the PD also found that its allied small parties brought in less votes than seats in parliament received.
Albania’s opposition seems set to enter parliament in September, 2 and a half years after it relinquished its seats over claims that the 2017 national elections were rigged. In 2019, it also boycotted local elections, which the Socialist Party easily won since it had no serious competition.
The opposition again claims that Prime Minister Edi Rama rigged the April 2021 elections, which they will not recognize, but will nevertheless enter parliament in September.