Weary-eyed poll commissioners continued to count ballots on Monday after an election day marred by the murder of an opposition supporter and the wounding of a ruling Democratic Party candidate in a shootout in the northern town of Lac.
The counting began in the early hours of Monday, and so far the Central Electoral Commission, CEC, has announced partial results representing than two per cent of the national vote. The partial results put the left-wing opposition in the lead.
Although local media have spoken of a high turnout, the CEC has yet to report how many people actually voted.
After polling stations closed, both the ruling Democrats and the Socialist opposition declared they had won the parliamentary vote, while an exit poll gave the opposition a nine-point lead.
Albania has long history of elections marred by fraud and violence and the European Commission has repeatedly warned that Sunday’s poll needed to meet international standards if Albania hopes to make progress in its accession process toward the EU.
If the ballot-counting process proceeds without incident and parties accept the results of the election, Albania’s EU accession process could receive a much-needed boost despite the tense campaign and the violence on election day.
Police said the victim of Sunday’s shooting was 53-year-old Gjon Pjeter Gjoni, a supporter of the opposition Socialists, while Democratic Party candidate Mehill Fufi was also gravely wounded in the incident.
Another man, Kastriot Fufi, was also injured.
The left-wing opposition described the incident as a desperate attempt by the government to intimidate voters, while the ruling Democrats characterised it as a terrorist act and an attempt to win political capital.
“This is an attempt to intimidate voters, to push away citizens from the ballot boxes in order to dictate the will of a minority that cannot oppose the will of the Albanian people,” said opposition leader Edi Rama on Sunday.
“There is no criminal act or criminal group that can ultimately stop the people from deciding,” Rama said.
But the spokesperson for the Democratic Party, Laura Vorpsi, accused Rama and Meta of trying to exploit the death of the opposition activist.
“These necrophile politicians forgot to express condolences to the victim’s family in the tragic incident in Lac, which was a pure terrorist act against the Democratic Party candidate, Mehill Fufi,” Vorpsi told a press conference on Sunday.
According to local media, prosecutors who are probing the shootout have issued a warrant for seven people who are believed to be involved.