Albania Opposition Lose Cash From Election Boycott

Balkan Insight
Publication date: 
May 12 2017

Opposition parties in Albania will miss out on Monday, when the Electoral Commission shares out 500,000 euros between the parties that have registered for the June 18 polls 

Albania's main opposition Democratic Party and its allies stand to lose out financially from their boycott of the elections due on June 18.

The country's electoral code provides that parties that register to participate in elections are entitled to state aid when it comes to their campaign expenses.

The budget foreseen for this campaign is around 500,000 euros [65,000,000 lek], 95 per cent of which should go to whichever parties won more than 0.5 per cent of the votes in the last election.

As result of the boycott, the total sum is going to be split among 15 parties that have decided to compete for the June election.

According to a draft of Central Electoral Commission, that expects to go for a vote on Monday, the ruling Socalist Party, PS, will benefit to the tune of almost 342,000 euros, or 69 per cent of the total sum.

In the last elections of 2013, the PS won 713,407 votes, while the Democratic Party came second with 528,373 votes.

Afrim Krasniqi, director of the Albanian Institute for Political Studies, said it was not a major loss for the main opposition party and its allies, however.

He told BIRN that generally, the money that political parties take from the budget for elections covers only a small slice of the real bill.

"This fund is not enough even to pay rent for election offices and the supporting staff. The sum that parties get from the budget is even smaller than the [average] bill [paid] for an international lobbyist," he said.

Krasniqi said the real money for parties' campaigns comes from big companies, and in an informal way that is usually kept secret.

"Private donations cover the biggest chunk of campaign expenditures and the biggest part of these come from private companies, which are not made public and not declared to the Electoral Commission," he said.

The Democratic Party, led by it chairman, Lulzim Basha, has been boycotting parliament for months. Since February 18, party leaders and supporters have been manning a protest tent erected in front of Prime Minister Edi Rama's office in Tirana. They have called for Rama to step down and allow a technical government to take the country into the next election.

Persisting in this request, they have also missed the deadline for parties and coalitions to register for the June electoral process.

Date: 12/05/2017