Martin Luther King says that “Our lives end when we keep silent about things that bother us.” This adage could be used anytime there is a discussion about elections in Albania.
There is no doubt that in the last 25 years the process of elections in Albania has gone wrong. In 1991 and 1992 we still had undisputed, normal elections. The elections of 2015 were a long stretch form that and we will face similar problems in the upcoming elections of 2017. From 1992 onwards, the history of free elections for government officials has been a dramatic manipulation with violent vote rigging and disputed results.
If there is one thing we all agree on is the fact that all this dramatic comedy should end once and for all. Anyything must be tried in order to end this. The opposition has demanded an electronic voting system so everyone is personally responsible for each vote. This is logical and it has worked in some places in Africa. In Nigeria, government rotation from the president in power, Jonathan Goodluck, to the actual President Muhammadu Buhari was possible only after electronic voting was put in place in 2015. In this case, the number of the electorate that voted was circa 9% less compared to the previous non-electronic elections.
In our case it doesn’t matter how the results would turn out. Maybe it wouldn’t change anything, but electronic voting will considerably decrease uncertainty on how voting is conducted in Albania.
What is more problematic, however, is the financial side of elections and the inequalities created amongst parties. This inequality is created in two ways.
The first one has to do with the infrastructure used during central and local government elections. There is an army of cars, money, people that get paid by public funds and solely serve the parties. This is dishonest and unlawful. To put a stop to this, the punishments for these acts should be harsh.
The second one is the secret financing of parties through dubious, illegal manners. According to public accounts, the government funds allocated to parties during elections are around $1.5 million, but these parties spend well over $30 million. This money comes from various dubious and illegal businesses related to corruption and crime. This money distorts the election results and contributes to inequality and vote rigging. This story must end. The parliament should draft a law that criminalizes the use of illegal financing during elections. The punishment should be harsh to put an end to this abhorrent political cancer.
If these worrying problems are not solved, the election process in Albania will be the same in 2017, with results that are constantly disputed in endless debates.