19 May 2011
On Saturday 14 May, the process of counting ballots in the Tirana mayoral election held on 8 May concluded with a victory for incumbent mayor Edi Rama (Socialist Party of Albania, SPA) over Democratic Party (DP) candidate Lulzim Basha, by a margin of 10 votes out of 250,623 ballots cast. The long-drawn-out counting process was carried out under great scrutiny by electoral commissioners from both the SPA and DP, who verified and signed the minutes for each of the 485 ballot boxes in Tirana.
The majority decision taken by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) on Wednesday 18 May to recount wrongly cast votes from selected ballot boxes, for which there is no provision in the Electoral Code of the Republic of Albania, would appear to be an anti-democratic attempt to manipulate the result of the election. The overturning of the initial result is gravely troubling, jeopardising once more the legitimacy of the vote in Albania, and prolonging the already existing political tension in the country.
The Socialist International supports the calls by SPA Chair Edi Rama for "a democratic, legal and political way forward." A functioning democracy requires free and fair elections, and the respect for the results of the 8 May elections is a crucial test of Albania’s democratic credentials, and a prerequisite for future development and further European integration. It is vital for Albania that the vote tallies certified by commissioners of both parties during the initial count last week are respected.
Elsewhere, results in other municipal elections held on 8 May have seen great success for the SPA-led Alliance for the Future, which has prevailed in the majority of major urban areas in the country, taking 37 municipalities nationwide against 28 for the Alliance for the Citizen led by the DP.