Albanian President Sets New Local Election Date Amidst Deepening Crisis

Albanian President Ilir Meta set the local election date on October 13, 2019, following refusal by the governing Socialist Party of Prime Minister Edi Rama and the opposition to seat in talks to solve the political crisis and agree on a new local election date.

The president announced his decision in a press conference at 14.30 today, stating that the new date aimed at guaranteeing national security, Albania’s integration into the EU and inclusive elections.

Prime Minister Edi Rama twitted that the new date set by the president is null and elections are going to take place on June 30, 2019.

President Meta cancelled the June 30 local election date amidst growing anti-government protests and a deepening political crisis in the country. He called on both sides to agree on a new local election date for the president to decree.

Prime Minister Edi Rama called the cancellation of the date unconstitutional, void and null. His Socialist Party started procedures to impeach the president.

The opposition refused to seat in talks with Rama as prime minister, whom they accuse of vote-buying, links to organized crime and corruption.

The government and the socialist majority in the parliament, which the opposition boycotted in February, urged election administration institutions to hold elections on June 30, and dismiss the presidential decree cancelling the date. Rama has vowed to win all 61 municipalities in the country.

The president’s decree cancelling the election was published in the Official Gazette, which gives it full legal power and makes its implementation mandatory.

The president argues that the decree is in full compliance with the Constitution and that, in any case, its constitutionality can only be adjudicated by the Constitutional Court, which Albania lacks since 2018 due to the ongoing justice reform. The Socialist Party maintains that Meta’s decree is unconstitutional and therefore he must be dismissed.

In a last attempt, yesterday President Meta invited both majority and opposition parties in separate meetings with him regarding the local election date and the overall political crisis in the country. He met with several party leaders, including opposition leader Lulzim Basha, while Prime Minister Edi Rama refused the invitation. Rama stated he was busy with the ongoing election campaign.

The setting of a new local election date by President Ilir Meta further complicates the constitutional and political crisis in Albania.