New Electoral Reform in Albania?

Editor’s note

The final report on the general elections held in Albania on April 25, 2021, compiled and released on Tuesday by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), has found many irregularities giving an ‘undue’ advantage for the ruling Socialist Party (SP) which will stay in power for a third consecutive mandate.

Vote buying, leaking of sensitive personal data of some 900,000 Albanian citizens before elections, including their political preferences, ministers’ participation in campaign during official engagements, media self-censorship because of pressure and corruption, failure to implement ODIHR recommendations including those related to de-politicization of lower-level election commissions, suffrage rights of persons with disabilities, criminal liability for defamation and use of campaign materials in the news.

More or less the above have worried ODIHR over the elections in Albania. And then?  Such a rhetorical question arises because the stark similarity of these wrongdoing of the majority with those found by the international guardian of regular elections in previous elections is striking. They are the same…

Does this mean that ODIHR does not care as its tons of recommendations are not taken into consideration at all by the political class in Albania? Does ODIHR think that half of its findings, especially the stealing of citizens’ private information by SP’s ‘family spies’, are enough for a democratic country to call null and void any kind of such elections?  Are ODIHR and OSCE and other internationals concerned that while making public the similar irregularities, their authority in the eyes of the Albanian public opinion erodes rapidly and the confidence in them gets weaker and weaker in an irreparable way? Have ODIHR’s authorities thought of the worthlessness of spending tax-payers money in vain given the arrogance of the political forces to ignore internationals’ ‘recommendations’?

Does this mean that ODIHR does not care about its failure to contribute to fair and free and democratic elections in Albania. Its motto highlighted in the report seems to be: “Parliamentary elections were generally well organized by the election administration.”

Of course, both ODIHR and OSCE are pleased as the EU delegation in Albania stated on Tuesday that the OSCE Report shows that the last elections were “generally well-organized”.

The news in the EU Delegation’s statement is not the above, but the ‘Eureka!’ of the turn: Albania needs to start an electoral reform that will help solve all the issues that came to light.

Another electoral reform? Hasn’t Albania had a lot of electoral reforms lauded as the last solution to irregularities in elections? Isn't it high time for internationals to spare their time and money and let things be as they are? It seems that no recipe works in Albania and its citizens are happy in their ‘democratic world’ of vote buying and stealing, being stolen of private information, media self-censured and other innovations making their ballot worthless.

Fewer and fewer Albanian are going to the polls. The trend goes on. Probably, one day the deputies will cast their ballots for each other because there will be hardly any citizens who will take the trouble to take part in such an electoral farce being cheated and abused!/argumentum.al

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