Albania votes as West watches election standards


lbanians began voting on Sunday in elections seen as a test of the Balkan state’s democratic credentials, with the front-runners for prime minister a dominant leader of the post-communist era and a Socialist.

“Voting has started normally and all is proceeding well,” said Central Election Commission spokesman Leonard Olli.

Both the Democrats and the Socialists say they will bring Albania into the European Union and create jobs and economic growth in a country where per capita GDP is less than $3,500. Each of them accuse the other of corruption.

Sunday’s vote is seen by the West as a test of Albania’s democratic maturity and its suitability to join the European bloc. Albania joined the NATO military alliance in April and the same month applied for European Union membership.

Washington and the EU have urged Albania to hold what they say would be the first fully free and fair vote ever. Two people were killed during the campaign.

“Only the marker ink has been missing, but only in scattered cases,” Olli said, referring to ink used to mark the finger of voters so that they do not vote twice.

Voting started in an orderly fashion in most areas although at some polling stations the vote failed to start because of problems with voting materials, local media reported.

“All this mosaic of little problems constitutes no real problem. It appears the system is functioning smoothly across Albania,” said Skender Minxhozi, editor of weekly MAPO magazine.

Sali Berisha, 64, helped end communism and served as president from 1992 until 1997 when the country plunged into chaos after pyramid investment schemes collapsed. He returned as prime minister in 2005.

The Adriatic country of 3.2 million has grown more than five percent annually under his recent leadership, although experts foresee stagnation or even recession this year.

Very close behind according to the latest polls is Socialist Party leader Edi Rama, 44, the mayor of Tirana who is credited with cleaning up and livening up the once dreary Balkan capital.

Under complicated new rules to translate the vote for 140 lawmakers into proportional representation in parliament, a small party could emerge as the kingmaker should Sunday’s vote result be close.

Western monitors have fanned out across Albania to observe whether the vote will meet international standards and they will announce their assessment of the election on Monday afternoon.

The Interior Ministry has told voters who have not yet collected their new secure ID cards, one of the two documents needed to vote, that they can pick them up on Sunday.

Reuters.com

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One Response

  1. Why you dont give right to vote albanians out of the country for Albanian vote.Pse nuk ju jepni te drejte Shqipetareve jashte atdheut te votojne???????

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