With the June 23 election only days way, the Albanian government has approved a decision to raise wages and pensions by 6 per cent in a bid to win votes for the ruling Democratic Party.
“We have approved in principle the increase of wages and pensions by 6 per cent, which will come into force after the election,” Prime Minister Sali Berisha said last Thursday.
Taking a swipe at his main rival in the June 23 general election, Mr Berisha said that the Socialist leader, Edi Rama, “never mentions salaries but only taxes and their increase”.
The hike appears an attempt by Berisha to boost support for his centre-right coalition, which is trailing the opposition Socialists in the polls by several percentage points.
A recent survey commissioned by Ora News TV and conducted by IPR Marketing gives Rama’s alliance 50 per cent of the national vote, well ahead of Berisha’s alliance, on 43 per cent.
However, because of Albania’s complicated regional and proportional voting system, the results could turn out to be much closer than opinion polls indicate.
Albania has a long history of contested polls that do not meet international standards. The last general elections in 2009 sparked a political crisis between the ruling Democrats and opposition Socialists which is still reverberating.
The June elections are seen as litmus test for Albania to advance the country’s battered EU integration goals.