Small Parties Face Big Squeeze in Albanian Election

Balkan Insight
Publication date: 
May 23 2017

The decision of the big parties to run alone in the June 25 general election in Albania will make it harder for the smaller parties to get any seats at all in parliament, experts say 

Albanian parties are heading into the coming elections alone, without the usual big pre-election coalitions, potentially making the process of forming a government after June 25 more difficult to predict.

The ruling Socialist Party of Prime Minister Edi Rama is going completely alone into the election while the second largest party, the opposition Democratic Party, is expected to host a few chairmen of small parties on its list of MPs - but without forming any official coalitions with them.

The third biggest party, the Socialist Movement for Integration, LSI, led by President-elect Ilir Meta, and the fourth, the Party for Justice, Integration and Unity, PDIU, which mainly lobbies for the rights of the Cham community [Albanians exiled from Greece after World War II], are also bidding for votes without the support of bigger parties.

These two parties were in coalition with the ruling Socialist during the last four years but are standing alone in the electoral battle.

The grand deal recently reached by Rama and the opposition Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha, although it made room for the opposition parties to call off their boycott and belatedly register for the election, did not give parties any extended chances to register in coalition for the elections.

Afrim Krasniqi, director of the Albanian Institute for Politics, told BIRN that this, and the new regional proportional election system, is going to make it very difficult for the smaller parties to get into parliament.

"Is openly a formula that strengthens the two main parties and makes it impossible for the smaller ones," he told BIRN.

"The Rama-Basha compromise will create problems in terms representation since around 200,000 voters [of smaller parties] out of 1.7 million voters are not going to have representatives in parliament," he added.

Article 162 of the electoral code stipulates that all the parties running alone and that do not cross the threshold of 3 per cent of votes cast in a given electoral given area are expelled from the process of distributing mandates.

This makes the process even more difficult for parties running for the first time in the election.

Krasniqi also believes the post-election process of coalition building to form the government will show that parties will be drawn to each other based on political calculations and not on ideology.

"The two main parties, the Socialists and Democrats, have made almost identical electoral promises, and between the Socialists and the LSI there is no distinction over programs," he noted.

Date: 23/05/2017