From: Bledar Qalliu
Majority and Opposition Again Fail to Reach Agreement on Constitutional Changes

Opposition MPs have once again walked out of the Legislative Council, the agenda-setting committee of the Albanian parliament, since the Socialist majority refused to agree on the constitutional changes the Democratic Party has proposed.

The council met on Wednesday to set the agenda for discussions on a proposal by the opposition to amend the constitution, which includes changes to the electoral system and demands the vetting of high-ranking politicians by the newly established justice institutions.

The majority voted to postpone the approval of the calendar, arguing that they needed time to familiarize themselves with it and possibly propose additional items. Despite opposition requests for the calendar to be voted consensually today and additional proposals to be included later at any time, they refused.

One day earlier, the opposition walked out of another meeting of the same body regarding the PS’s proposal to extend the term of judicial vetting institutions.

These institutions were established five years ago as part of a thorough justice reform whose goal is to increase judicial independence and remove from the system corrupt judges and prosecutors.

Vetting was expected to finish in 2022, but it has been delayed with only half of the magistrates vetted so far.

On Tuesday, the opposition asked for constitutional amendments proposed by both sides to be discussed together. 

Contrarily, the majority maintains that the extension of the term for vetting institutions should be done quickly given that both sides have agreed on the justice reform five years ago, whereas opposition proposals need to be analyzed thoroughly.

Today’s failure to reach a consensus even on the parliamentary agenda came after the chief whips of the ruling Socialist Party and opposition Democratic Party, Taulant Balla and Alfred Rushaj, were urged by US Ambassador Yuri Kim in a meeting to “discuss differences honestly and rise above partisanship.”