Tirana Council Meeting and Decisions Were Illegal

Under dubious circumstances, the Municipal Council of Tirana approved yesterday two proposals which have raised considerable concern among the public: the increase in the water price and the concession for the design, construction, and use of 17 new school buildings.

Both proposals were officially approved with the minimum quorum and minimum majority of 31 votes: 25 PS; 2 LSI; 3 PDIU; and 1 FRD.

The PD and the LSI boycotted the meeting, which otherwise would have prevented the council of arriving at the necessary quorum. The PD has 19 council members, and the LSI 13. Together they a majority of 32, which not only is a majority in the council, but also enough to block the PS and its allies from arriving at the necessary quorum to hold a meeting. To be more precise, the PS only needs two LSI council members to join in order to meet the quorum and pass proposals. And the two that happened to join in yesterday’s meeting thus seemed to have acted in violation of their party’s position.

It may seem as if the decisions taken yesterday were legitimate, but there is one complication that removes that legitimacy, and probably also the legality of that entire meeting.

The participation of 3 PS council members and 1 LSI council member in yesterday’s meeting was illegal. Because 5 former council members (3 from the PS and 2 from the LSI) were elected deputy during the recent parliamentary elections, they were replaced by 5 new council members. These 5, however, were not yet sworn in, and therefore no official part of the Municipal Council and without voting rights.

The 5 council members who left were Elisa Spiropali, Elona Gjebrea, and Klotilda Bushka (Ferhati) from the PS and Endrit Braimllari and Floida Kërpaçi from the LSI.

This means that the maximum number of PS council members allowed to take part in yesterday’s vote was 22, not 25. Adding the council members of the PDIU and FRD, as well as Agim Kraja from the LSI, who ignored the LSI’s boycott, the maximum number of votes Mayor Veliaj’s proposals could have gathered was 27, 4 less than the necessary quorum.

The Municipality of Tirana still didn’t publish the list of those who took part in yesterday’s meeting, but whoever the 4 extras were, their presence was in violation of the Albanian law.

If they included any of the former council members who were elected deputies – Gjebrea, Spiropali, or Bushka – their presence violated the regulation that deputies can only combine their mandate with that of a minister.

In the case of deputy Ilir Beqja, the Constitutional Council has been clear that a deputy’s mandate starts at the moment the Central Election Commission (KQZ) officially certifies the election results, even though they are only sworn in later. So there is no legal uncertainty about whether Gjebrea, Spiropali, or Bushka were allowed to take part in yesterday’s meeting. They were not. And if they did, they risk losing their mandate as deputy.

If their replacements took part in yesterday’s meeting, that is also a violation of the Albanian law. In order for them to be officially sworn in as council members, a quorum of 31 council members is necessary, which, as we pointed out above, was not legally met. If they were sworn in nonetheless, this again would be a violation of the law.

What is certain is that at least one of the 5 replacements took part in the voting process, Genta Mezini, who replaced LSI council member Floida Kërpaçi. Either her vote in yesterday’s meeting was invalid, or her taking part in the vote was invalid, and quite possibly both. It is not even certain whether Mezini was allowed to replace Kërpaçi, as Lindita Veliasi is placed higher on the LSI’s 2015 candidate list. Without Veliasi’s explicit withdrawal, Mezini should have not even been allowed to attend the meeting.

All in all it appears that there has been a series of violations in yesterday’s Municipal Council. Its meeting, and therefore any decisions or votes taken in it, is invalid and illegal.