Parties in Albania reach agreement on electoral reform, EU commends the process

EU - Albania flags; Photo: Pixabay

TIRANA – Albanian political parties reached an agreement on electoral reform on Friday.

According to Exit, the Socialist Party has conceded to the opposition and has abandoned its proposal to dismantle the election administration. It has instead agreed to maintain the current electoral committees with party representatives.

On the other hand, the opposition gave up on its request to have a caretaker government set-up before each general election.

The parties agreed on the process of counting the votes, with representatives of government and opposition participating in all stages of the process.

There was an agreement to use biometric identification across the country. However, it is possible that biometric identification will not be able to be implemented at all in the next election given the short time until the expected April or May elections.

Judges in the Electoral College shall be elected from those who have passed the vetting process successfully.

The Albanian diaspora, which amounts to about half of the population living in the country, will still be unable to vote.

The parties did not agree with MP Rudina Hajdari’s proposal to change the electoral system, Exit reports.

With electoral reform being one of the conditions for Albania to hold its first intergovernmental conference within the EU accession process, the agreement was welcomed by the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi and High Representative Josep Borrell.

“We congratulate all parties on today’s important electoral reform political agreement. We welcome the inclusive process and commend the political willingness to reach consensus. This is an important achievement that will benefit the citizens of Albania”, the joint statement reads.

The new Electoral Code provisions, once adopted by the Parliament, will give Albania an electoral process with higher integrity and transparency standards, based on OSCE/ODIHR recommendations, including the gradual depoliticisation of the electoral administration, Várhelyi and Borrell stated.

“They address a key condition to start EU accession negotiations, as stated in the Council conclusions of March 2020, thereby moving Albania one step closer to its EU future. This bodes well for future progress on reforms needed on Albania’s EU path”, the statement concludes.