Albania Opposition Set to Ignore Presidential Election

Balkan Insight
Publication date: 
Apr 19 2017

As leaders of the main parties start the business of electing a new President of Albania, there is no sign of the opposition parties calling off their boycott and becoming part of the process.

Albania's parliament will complete the first round of electing a new President on Wednesday afternoon, even though no candidate will be up for a vote.

The main ruling parties, Prime Minister Edi Rama's Socialist Party, and Ilir Meta's Socialist Movement for Integration, LSI, together with their smaller allies, have enough MPs to elect the next President, but did not actually submit a candidate in what looked like an attempt to lure the opposition into being part of the process.

The candidate must be an Albanian citizen over 40 years of age whose candidacy is proposed to parliament by no less than 20 MPs.

The constitution foresees five rounds of votes. In the first three, the successful candidate must win the votes of three-quarters of all MPs, or 84 out of 140.

If this is not possible, in the next two rounds the candidate who wins more votes than the others wins the post.

If this is also not possible, parliament is dissolved and new elections are scheduled. The five rounds should be completed within 35 days of the date of the first round.

Prime Minister Rama said during an interview on Vizion Plus on Monday said that they had decided not to put up a name in the first round in order to give a chance for a consensual figure to emerge.

"We are going to give the opposition space to get involved in the process. We are not going to present a candidate in the first round, while waiting for the [opposition MPs] ... to come to parliament to elect a consensual president," he said.

The opposition, led by the chairman of the Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha, has been boycotting parliament since February 18, when they erected a protest tent in Tirana, protesting against the government and claiming that the next parliamentary election due on June 18 would be rigged.

They want Rama to step down and allow the formation of a technical government that will take the country into what they call a free and fair election. As result, the opposition has not registered to participate in the June election.

Up to now, they have not given any sign of breaking the boycott on entering parliament to participate in the process of selecting the President, either.

Skender Minxhozi, editor-in-chief of Java News portal, told BIRN that the opposition does not interested in the business of electing a President.

"I don't believe they are going to break their boycott because of the presidential elections since their main goal is the postponement of the [general] election and the creation of the technical government," he said.

Parliament has now to decide the date of the second round of the presidential election, that has to be no more than seven days after April 19.

Date: 19/04/2017