From: Alice Taylor
Venice Commission: Criticises Hasty Adoption of Electoral Reforms, Not Against International Standards

The Venice Commission and ODIHR regret the hasty adoption of amendments to the Albanian constitution and electoral code but said that their content does not go against international standards.

In a statement issued this morning, the Commission said they also regretted the fact that there were no wide consultations in an adequate timeframe with political stakeholders and non-governmental organisations.

The opinion was requested by President Ilir Meta and was based on an exchange of views between the Commission, Meta, ODIHR, and MP Bushka, and “should not be considered as a comprehensive review of the country’s electoral framework. The statement noted that the Commission’s focus was on the conformity of the amendments with international standards.

The Venice Commission and ODIHR urged the Albanian political forces – both in and outside parliament – to ensure the “normal democratic functioning of the institutions” and once again stressed the need for restoring the work of the Constitutional Court. While most recommendations should be applied after parliamentary elections scheduled for April next year, several more pressing ones, which would not imply legislative amendments, need to be put to practice before then.

These include constructive dialogue to swiftly and transparently carry out the electoral law on time, the proper resourcing of electoral administration, and leaders of political parties, not standing as candidates in multiple constituencies.

After the election, the recommendations are as follows:

  • Abolishing the possibility for political leaders to compete in several constituencies.  
  • Respecting equal rights of all parties in a coalition to appeal the actions and decisions of the coalition. 
  • Introducing the possibility for individual candidates to appeal against the allocation of seats inside a list. 
  • Clarifying the definition of a threshold for local elections in the sense that it applies at the municipality level. 
  • Considering an exception to the one per cent national threshold for minorities. 
  • Revising the Electoral Code to reduce the minimum number of candidates on a list. 
  • Addressing any outstanding and future ODIHR election-related recommendations.

The Venice Commission and ODIHR reiterated their readiness to assist the Albanian authorities, especially to facilitate the implementation of the revised Electoral Code.