Exit Explains: How Did the Electoral Reform Start and Why Has It Taken Three Years?

Today, the Albanian Parliamentary Assembly is expected to vote on changes to the electoral code as a part of the electoral reform. Exit brings you an explanation of how we got to this stage and why it took three years to get there.

Electoral Reform was one of the points of the McAllister agreement signed on May 18, 2017 for the general election.

It included the commitment of the two main parties, the PD and the PS, to work together on changes to the electoral code based on the OSCE-ODIHR recommendations contained in the 2013, 2015, 2017, never-implemented reports.

On 10 November 2017, the Assembly set up a special Commission for Electoral Reform, with a deadline of December 2018, with the aim of drafting the reform according to the OSCE recommendations in the three elections of 2013, 2015 and 2017.

The work of the Special Commission stopped several times, as a result of politicians leaving the mandates, the boycott of the local elections, and the 26 November earthquake.

As of today, 5 October, a total of 20 meetings have been held. In the first 18 meetings, attendees discussed the models of foreign countries in terms of elections. It was only during the last two meetings where the proposals for what will be voted on in Parliament today, were discussed.

It took the creation of the Political Council, a body outside parliament, proposed by the opposition (PD and LSI) and supported by internationals, to start concrete discussions on amendments to the Electoral Code.

After several months of negotiations, again the draft Code that is expected to be approved in the assembly is the proposal of the Socialist Party, while the PD and LSI have opposed it. This appears to make the three years of talks pointless as the PS will approve what they propose, rather than reaching a consensus with others.

Electoral reform as a condition for opening negotiations with the European Union.

Socialist MP Taulant Balla promised EU Commissioner for Foreign Affairs David McAllister and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn that electoral reform would be passed by consensus before Christmas 2018.

In July 2018, the rapporteur for Albania in the German parliament, Thorsten Frei, stated that “the first meeting for accession will take place only after the local elections, based on the new electoral reform approved by consensus”.

Also, in October 2018, the EU-Albania Stabilization and Association Parliamentary Committee insisted on “the need to implement in time the OSCE / ODIHR recommendations, which are still unimplemented, by the various post-election reports, especially those related to the independence and depoliticization of the election administration, transparency in campaign financing, voter registration, vote buying and out-of-country voting ”.

Even today, two years later, the realization of the Electoral Reform continues to be a condition that the EU has set for Albania before the realization of the First Intergovernmental Conference, which determines the beginning in practice of the Albania-EU negotiations.

This conference is expected to be held at the end of 2020 or in the first months of 2021.