From: Bledar Qalliu
Two MEPs Urge Albanian Parliament to Wait for Venice Commission Opinion on Electoral Code Changes

Two Members of the European Parliament, Andrey Kovatchev and David Lega, have called on Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama and parliament to refrain from passing the amendments to the electoral code before an opinion by the Venice Commission.

They have supported the European Commission’s call earlier today, to which Rama responded negatively. Commissioner Varhelyi suggested the Parliament wait for the swift opinion of Venice Commission before they vote for a second time. Rama responded that any delay in passing the Electoral Code could put at risk its implementation in the April 2021 election.    

Rama’s ruling Socialist Party and parliamentary opposition passed changes to the electoral code earlier this month with 96 votes in favor, more than the 84 votes needed.

President Ilir Meta vetoed them for being unconstitutional. He sent his decree back to parliament, suggesting necessary changes. The parliamentary majority can either consider the President’s suggestions in their second vote of the amendments, or disregard them and pass their own version in a final vote.

Meta also asked the Venice Commission for an urgent opinion on the proposed changes.

In response to European Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi’s call for the majority to wait for the Venice Commission’s opinion, Rama stated that the delay would jeopardize the implementation of the amended Electoral Code in the 2021 election. He said that the majority will move ahead with a second vote in parliament without delay.

Changes to the Electoral Code came after the majority, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary opposition agreed on an electoral reform brokered by the EU and US ambassadors. The deal between the three parties required changes to the Electoral Code. The Socialist majority and parliamentary opposition approved the changes agreed, and added some more.

The extra-parliamentary opposition claimed that the extra changes violated the electoral reform deal.

However, the facilitators of talks between the parties, EU and US acknowledged the right of the parliament to make changes to the law. The US ambassador added this did not violate the electoral reform deal.