Socialist Party Set to Repeat Shkodra Elections without a Presidential Decree

The Socialist Party (PS) will hold partial elections in Shkodër after the Central Election Commission (KQZ) decides on a date, according to a statement by the Head of the PS Parliamentary Group Taulant Balla.

“This is not the first time there are partial elections in Albania. There have been partial elections in Dibër and Kolonjë. The KQZ has all the authority […] to decide on the date. The Prefect of Shkodra has noticed the vacancy created and it’s the KQZ to decide on the date,” – Balla stated.

It is unclear on what legal grounds could the KQZ – which is controlled by the Socialist Party – claim the power to decide on an election date. Art.92/gj of the Albanian Constitution stipulates that this is e prerogative of the president:

“The President also exercises these powers: […] gj) set the date of the elections for the Assembly, local government bodies and the conduct of referendums;”

Art.10/3 of the Electoral Code also prescribes that “in any case, the President of the Republic is to issue the decree no later than 48 hours from the notification of the interruption of the mandate.”

In both Dibër and Kolonjë partial elections mentioned by Balla, the president has actually issued decrees (here and here) that set the date of elections. The KQZ has never decided on an election date, and it appears that it has no power to do so.

The ruling Socialist Party and the KQZ it controls conducted local elections on June 30, in possible violation of the President’s decrees that cancelled the date and set October 13 as local election date in Albania. With no functioning Constitutional Court in the country, there is no authority to adjudicate on the constitutionality of the last elections.

The Socialist Party of Prime Minister Edi Rama run uncontested and won in all 61 municipalities, after the opposition boycotted the elections, accusing Rama of having rigged previous elections and of state capture.

After elections, the new mayor-elect of Shkodra, Valdrin Pietri, was denounced by the opposition Democratic Party for having hidden his criminal past. After a long silence and publication of several documents supporting the opposition’s claim that Pjetri had been sentenced for drug trafficking in Italy, Rama distanced himself and his party from the mayor-elect, who also withdrew from being officially appointed mayor.

For the past two weeks, the opposition has been accusing Mayor of Vora Agim Kajmaku (alias Jorgo Toto) also for hiding his criminal past but Prime Minister Edi Rama has not reacted to accusations yet.

If the Socialist Party attempts to hold local elections in the Municipality of Shkodër using the KQZ it controls and without a presidential decree, according to Balla’s statement, this would be yet another legally questionable act by the ruling party.