bne IntelliNews – Preliminary results show lead for socialists in power in Albania
Preliminary results from the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Albania show a lead for the ruling Socialist Party, although the race between the Socialists and the two main opposition parties remains tight.
With 1,695 of the 5,199 ballot boxes counted on the morning of April 26, the Socialist Party of Prime Minister Edi Rama has so far won 49.32% of the vote in the general elections of April 25.
Its main rival, the Democratic Party, is at 38.88% and the ally of the Democrats, the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI), at 7.13%.
The result indicates a better-than-expected performance for the Socialists, although with only about a third of the ballot boxes counted there is still room for the picture to change.
Earlier, an exit poll released shortly after the vote ended on April 25 indicated an extremely close race between the Socialists and the Alliance for Change formed by the country’s two main opposition parties. The Euronews exit poll in collaboration with MRB put the Socialists on 43.3-47.5% of the vote, with the Democratic Party not far behind at 40-44% and the LSI on 6-9%.
Representatives of the two main parties were optimistic about their prospects.
The mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, has publicly praised the socialists’ victories so far, and an official party statement on April 26 said that “the victory of the Socialist Party is now very clear”.
Meanwhile, Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha spoke of a “heavy defeat” for the socialists and claimed that the ruling party’s first strong result was that ballot boxes in left-wing areas were counted first. .
Former LSI leader President Ilir Meta also claimed that ballot boxes are being counted selectively. âThe counters should not be influenced by intentional selections of counting boxes for demoralizationâ¦ Everyone remains calm until the final results are announced. Every vote in the box will be counted and recounted until the end, âthe president wrote on Facebook.
While the situation has remained relatively calm as the Albanians await the results, a controversy has erupted over the opposition counters, which have been accused of delaying the process by taking what the Socialists have claimed to be ‘excessive breaks. “.
CEC’s Ilirjan Celibashi wrote on Twitter: âPolitical parties that have counters must live up to the public promise to ensure uninterrupted counting and evaluation of votes.
“There is no justification for stopping the process due to the lack of counters. Tired counters and / or commissioners should be replaced immediately.”
The tally follows a tense election campaign and several incidents on election day, including a knife attack on a policeman at a polling station in Puke town and a threat to burn the ballot boxes at a polling station in Fier . Two people carrying cash envelopes were arrested for buying votes.
Election day events followed two shootings of party activists the week before the election, one that resulted in the death of a Socialist Party activist. There were several other physical clashes between rival supporters of the main parties early in the campaign.
After eight years in power, much of Rama’s campaign has focused on investing in Albania and more specifically investing in large infrastructure projects like new ports and airports – he plans to push through the number of international airports in the country from two currently to four or five. The prime minister also sought to capitalize on his handling of the pandemic and the November 2019 earthquake. However, critics have warned that such large-scale projects will do little to address the concerns of ordinary Albanians, who are falling apart. focus on the lack of jobs and mass emigration, especially of young people.
Basha, on the other hand, offered a fresh start to disillusioned voters after eight years in the Socialist Party. As it prepares to return to parliament, the Democratic Party has worked to show voters that it is ready to govern responsibly and guide Albania towards EU membership. While all major parties want to bring Albania into the EU, Basha has spoken out particularly on this issue and pledged to launch accession negotiations within 100 days if he becomes prime minister. He also repeatedly accused the Socialist government of corruption and claimed it was controlled by oligarchs.
As the results are counted, international observers have called for calm.
âVoters in Albania have come out forcefully to express their will. Election and law enforcement authorities have a duty to ensure the integrity of the vote. Candidates and leaders also have their duty: not to presume results but to accept the judgment of the voters when the count is finalized, âsaid US Ambassador Yuri Kim.
âVisit to the counting center of the National Museum of #Tirana, where operations began. We hope that they will be carried out with the highest level of integrity and accountability. We welcome the appeal by party leaders on the importance of patiently awaiting the results of the count. It will be equally important to respect the outcome of the elections in [the Central Election Commission]Luigi Soreca, EU Ambassador to Albania, wrote on Twitter.