From: Exit Staff
Explaining Albania: Electoral Code Changes Approved in Parliament, Here’s What will Happen

The Assembly approved the Electoral Code with 96 votes in favour and 15 votes against, on 5 October. The adopted law summarizes the proposals of the socialist majority and the “Democrat” group in the Assembly. 84 votes were needed to pass the reform.

The deputies who declared their vote against before the voting are Ralf Gjoni, Rudina Hajdari, Andi Përmeti, Adriatik Alimadhi.

The adoption of new electoral code required the establishment of a Special Parliamentary Commission and the creation of a body not defined by law, the Political Council.

The new amendments to the Electoral Code are the reflection of the interests of the mainly Socialist majority such as closed lists, the abolition of composite coalitions, the candidacy of the party chairman in four constituencies, the national threshold at 1%, the reorganization of the CEC, biometric identification, and changes in police and prosecution laws.

Exit summarizes below an overview of the changes adopted in the Assembly:

1 – Reduction of the national threshold from 3% to 1%. The national threshold is the minimum number of votes a party must receive to win a seat.

2 —The leader of the party or coalition has the right to register as a candidate for deputy in four constituencies. After the vote he can choose in which constituency he wants to be an MP.

3 – Candidates ranked by the party chairman in safe seats, are ranked according to the number of preferential votes they have received. The same goes for the candidates in the second part of the list, who are in insecure places.

4 – A candidate for deputy from the second list must receive up to 10 thousand votes to be elected deputy, replacing the candidate ranked last in the list of safe seats appointed by the Chairman of the party or coalition.

While the changes approved on July 30, 2020 are:

Changing the electoral system to a “proportional system with regional competition.”

Until now, the Constitution stipulated that the electoral system is a “proportional system with multi-name constituencies” —the constituencies had to conform to one of the administrative-territorial divisions of the country, leaving open that there could be a single constituency, ie a national system.

The definition of “regional competition”, now made in the Constitution, excludes the national proportional system. On the other hand, the term “regional” is not defined in the Constitution and it is not clear what it means.

Biometric voter identification : From the 2025 elections, voters will be identified by electronically reading their identity card or passport.

If the necessary system is built in time, biometric identification will be done as early as the 2021 elections.

Restructuring the CEC : The CEC will now consist of three independent decision-making bodies: a five-member body that sets the rules and guidelines, a five-member body that reviews complaints, and a person who will practice all activities. for holding elections, which will also lead the CEC administration.

Charging the CEC with the decision to vote for emigrants : The Electoral Code has authorized the CEC to decide when Albanian citizens living abroad will have the opportunity to vote abroad. The CEC is also charged with the implementation of this decision, whenever it is taken.

Electionof members of the Electoral College : The Electoral College, which consists of eight judges, will be elected not only by appellate judges but also those of the first instance; also, the Code ruled that members of the Electoral College should be vetoed in advance.

Amendments to the police law  to define the role of the police in elections.

Amendments to the law on the status of judges and prosecutors, to decide that election issues should be included in the assessment of vetting and careers for magistrates who have considered such cases.

Amendments to the law on SPAK and the Prosecutor General to investigate electoral corruption.

Changes in the financing of political parties, in election campaigns.

Determining the gender formula in the selection of candidates and MPs.

Establishing the status of a whistleblower of electoral crimes, which will enjoy legal protection.