On Sunday 23 June, parliamentary elections will be held in Albania. The coalitions around the Socialist Party of Albania (SP) which is led by the ex mayor of Tirana, Edi Rama, and the Democratic Party of Albania (PD) of the incumbent Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, have the best chance to win the elections. These elections are a very important indicator for the European Commission to propose for Albania getting candidate status for the EU.
A recent survey gives Rama’s alliance 50% of the national vote, well ahead of the 43% of Berisha’s alliance. However, because of Albania’s complicated regional and proportional voting system, the results could turn out to be much closer than opinion polls indicate. On 9 June a survey puts Albania’s left-wing opposition nine points in front of the centre-right ruling Democrats. According to the poll, 49% of respondents would vote for the Socialist-led coalition in the elections, well ahead of 40 per cent for the centre-right ruling Democratic Party coalition. The New Democratic Spirit, a splinter group from the ruling Democrats, headed by former President Bamir Topi, would receive 5.5% of the votes and another 5.5% would go to the nationalist Red and Black Alliance.
The media’s failure to oppose a decision obliging TV stations to transmit pre-packaged tapes of election campaign events underlines its fractured, weak position. As Albania entered its final week of campaigning, TV screens are filled with coverage of political rallies from dawn till sunset. Not all the material that is being broadcast is produced by journalists and editors, however. A good part of the campaign coverage comes prepackaged by the public relations offices of the competing political parties and their editing studios. Pre-packaged tapes of political events in Albania have been around for almost a decade and have played a prominent role in the last two elections. However, opposition to airing these tapes has become much weaker, and only one TV station coming out publicly against a decision of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), obliging TV stations to air them.
The Delegation of the European Union, in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission underlined the need for all actors to refrain from violence on the eve of the June 23 elections. “Among the European and international standards which we expect to be implemented, one of the most important is to refrain from violence, in accordance with the citizens’ expectations that the elections take place in a calm and peaceful environment,” the EU delegation said in a statement.