Nearly 3.5 million Albanians are going to the polls this morning to elect the new 140-seat parliament in the 10th parliamentary elections in Albania in the 30 years -from the fall of the Hoxha regime- of change of government.
The polls opened at 7:00 (local time) and will close at 19:00. The election is being monitored by about 100 groups of observers from the OSCE, the European Union and the United States.
There are 46 parties and three pre-election coalitions with the largest, the “Alliance for Change”, consisting of 14 parties, led by the Democratic Party of Lulezim Basha. The Democratic Party has also declared a post-election alliance with the third largest party in Albania, the Socialist Integration Movement of Monica Kriemadi.
The ruling Socialist Party is coming down on its own, with its leader and prime minister, Eddie Rama, saying that if it were the first party to win autonomy, it would not seek co-operation and lead the country to new elections.
The two parties representing the Hellenism of Albania, the Party of the Union for Human Rights (KEAD) and the Party of the Greeks (MEGA), are participating with parliamentary candidates on the ballots of the three major parties.
Specifically, the president of KEAD Vangelis Doules in Tirana, in an eligible position on the ballot of the Democratic Party, Nikos Kouris of MEGA, in Avlona, on the ballot of the Socialist Party and Vangelis Tavos leads the ballot in the constituency of Sosia
The election campaign developed with great intensity. Complaints of vote buying and selling have been launched from all sides and this widespread phenomenon may prove to be crucial to the outcome of the vote, especially in the event of a long abstention, which is to be expected.
The allegation that the ruling Socialist Party used state records with personal data of 910,000 voters in the capital, Tirana, which formed the basis for the investigation of their political tendency and their manipulation in favor of the S. Party, caused a sensation.
The pre-election tension led to the intervention of the Western factor, with the leading role of the US ambassador to Tirana Yuri Kim, in order to prevent the phenomenon of vote buying, political sharpness and the presence on the ballots of candidates under criminal control for their involvement in the organization.
Western interference has angered President Ilir Meta, who has accused the US diplomat of “interfering in the country’s internal affairs” by providing pre-election support to Rama.
For the first time in the elections in Albania, the religious leaders of the three largest religious communities in the country directly intervened with their statements, calling for calm, free exercise of the right of the faithful to vote, and abstention from the “voting trade”.
The political discourse in the election campaign has been derailed a few times in harsh accusations, even on a personal level. The opposition based its political argument on the need to change the government, which it accuses of corruption and economic and political stagnation, which have hampered the country’s progress in joining the European Union.
For his part, Prime Minister Eddie Rama, who personally bore the brunt of the election campaign, called for a third term, relying mainly on billion-dollar investment pledges from Turkey and the Arab world, and made harsh accusations against the opposition. With particular emphasis, he used the coronavirus vaccination with Chinese vaccines obtained through Turkey, while Erdogan himself was involved in the elections, giving a pre-election gift to “Brother Rama”, a modern hospital in the city of Fieri, which was funded by in three months.
The opposition, for its part, accused Prime Minister Rama that his sudden decision shortly before the ballot box, according to which all citizens entering Albania from Greece and Northern Macedonia will be subject to a fourteen-day mandatory quarantine, is intended to the result. What is certain is that it will negatively affect the arrival of voters from northern Epirus from Greece.
As for the winner, every prediction is considered uncertain, with Eddie Rama appearing to have a slight lead.