Albanians vote in elections after bitter political struggle European Union Socialist Party Edi Rama Albania Nato
Albanians vote in parliamentary elections on Sunday amid the virus pandemic and bitter rivalry between the two biggest political parties.
Some 3.6 million eligible voters, including Albanians abroad, will elect 140 legislators from among some 1,800 candidates from 12 political parties or coalitions and those running independently. No advance or postal voting is allowed. People infected with COVID-19 cannot vote.
Albania, which has a population of 2.8 million and has been a NATO member since 2009, looks forward to launching full membership negotiations with the European Union later this year. Sunday’s vote is seen as a key step on this path.
Albania has seen a significant drop in daily coronavirus cases over the past week despite political rallies in the country. More than 400,000 people have received their blows.
A nighttime curfew has been imposed with restrictions on gatherings and the mandatory wearing of masks.
Prime Minister Edi Rama of the socialists in power who are seeking their third consecutive term, wants to make Albania a “champion” of tourism, energy, agriculture and digital projects.
Pre-election polls showed that Rama’s left-wing Socialist Party was likely to come first.
Lulzim Basha of the Democratic Party accuses the government of corruption and links to organized crime, and promises lower taxes, higher wages and more social financial support.
Clashes between supporters of the two main parties peaked on Wednesday in the center of the town of Elbasan, where a prominent Socialist Party activist died. Police said the victim was shot dead, allegedly by a member of the opposition Democratic Party, during an argument.
Although officially impartial, President Ilir Meta has become an incendiary opponent of the government, accusing Rama of concentrating all legislative, administrative and judicial powers in his hands and of leading a “kleptocratic regime” that has spoiled the response to the pandemic and delayed the country’s integration into the EU.
Foreign observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Western embassies will closely follow Sunday’s polls.
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