LSI: Opposition Won’t Participate in Elections Under Existing Electoral Code

Petrit Vasili of the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) said the opposition will not participate in elections without strict assurances for free and fair elections.

“The opposition cannot participate in the elections with the existing electoral system.”

Referring to an investigation by Voice of America, evidence has come to light that suggests that tens of Socialist Party MPs were involved in colluding with organised crime to buy votes in Durres, Kavaja, Lezha, and Dibra. A number of documents and wiretaps were collected to provide evidence to support the allegations.

It was ascertained that votes had been bought and voters had even been asked to take a photo of their vote to prove they had done as asked.

The real extent of the vote buying scandal is difficult to quantify and with no formal investigation underway, the Opposition have taken part in a number of protests and have publicly called for a “free and fair” elections. Whist some protests have resulted in scuffles between protestors and police and some damage to property, the vast majority of the thousands in attendance have been peaceful.

Opposition MPs then took the move to resign from their Parliamentary Mandates in further protest of the situation.

Whilst most have handed in their mandates or refused to take them, some individuals have gone against the wishes of their party and accepted them. This results in a situation where the Socialist Party majority were elected under the cloud of a vote buying scandal, and the few Opposition MPs do not represent the electorate.

Despite this crisis of democracy, exacerbated by the unwillingness to call a snap election or properly investigate the serious electoral fraud allegations, the OSCE Ambassador to Tirana, Bernd Borschardt said that the parliament is legitimate, thus suggesting that opposition candidates should accept the mandates their colleagues abandoned. His reason for this was so that rounds of voting linked to electoral reform could go ahead with no issues.

“Although June elections are close, Albania is going through a critical moment. Unfortunately, the required amendments and the electoral reform have not yet been voted in Parliament”, Borchardt said.

Unfortunately, there is now a situation where there is significant doubt over the legitimacy of parliament once candidates in the lists of opposition parties will have either accepted or refused their mandates. This does not set the ideal scene for opening EU discussions, or holding any kind of election.

The Opposition has announced another protest that will be held on Saturday in the centre of Tirana, again demanding fresh general elections.

— Alice Elizabeth Taylor