Opposition parties and the EPP criticize constitutional changes in Albania

Tirana; Photo: European Commission

TIRANA – The Albanian opposition has vowed it won’t recognize unilateral changes made to the Constitution by the ruling Socialist majority, Exit News reported.

On Thursday, the parliament approved constitutional changes to partially open party candidate lists and change coalition rules a few months before the elections.

The extra-parliamentary opposition had supported fully open lists and not changing the coalition rules at this time.

In a press statement, Democratic Party (PD) leader Lulzim Basha said that the changes violate the Constitution and the 5 June agreement between the parties, facilitated by the US and EU.

“The changes are unacceptable and are not binding on the opposition and the Albanians”, Basha told.

Prime Minister Edi Rama called on the opposition to “immediately sit down” and collaborate with his party. According to Exit News, Rama threatened to adopt the necessary changes to the Electoral Code without the opposition.

Albanian President Ilir Meta has blasted the constitutional changes affecting elections in Albania.

He accused Prime Minister Edi Rama of staging a coup by approving partially open party candidate lists and changing rules for coalitions only a few months before elections.

“No kidnappers gang will be able to run away from the deserved response it will receive by the power of citizens united against this coup,” Meta said.

He called the changes unconstitutional, violent, unacceptable, and denounced them for being unilateral, unjustifiable, hasted, and made by a parliament with incomplete legitimacy.

Gahler: EPP will carefully watch the next moves

The EPP Group will carefully watch the next moves concerning the electoral code and strongly urge to reach consensus with the opposition within the Political Council, wrote Michael Gahler EPP Spokesman on Foreign Affairs on Facebook.

“I find it highly regrettable and questionable with regard to their real intentions that the ruling party of Albania broke the internationally reached consensus with the opposition and yesterday unilaterally amended the constitution,” he said.

He pointed out that it cannot be acceptable for anyone that the Rama government which wants the accession negotiations with the EU to start arbitrarily changes the rules of the electoral game.

“If this government honestly wants accession negotiations with the EU how can they disregard the advice of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the relevant Member States on such a sensitive and basic issue for democracy,” he said.

According to Gahler, the EPP Group will carefully watch the next moves concerning the electoral code and strongly urge to reach consensus with the opposition within the Political Council.

“It is up to the Albanian parties and people to protect democracy and their European perspective”, he concluded.