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Albania's electoral shortcomings could delay EU bid

Posted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:10 am
by Arta
The Balkan nation's vote Sunday struggled to meet international standards – potentially embarrassing the US, which backed Albania's successful bid for NATO membership.
By Besar Likmeta | Contributor


Tirana, Albania - At the George W. Bush cafe, next to the table where the former US President sat to discuss a US-funded microloan program with a baker, a barber, a tailor, and a shepherd when he visited Albania in June 2007, Ertion Muca had a hard time convincing his friend why he voted for the Albanian opposition.

As elsewhere in this tiny Balkan nation of 3.6 million, the crowd was spilt between the ruling Democratic Party of incumbent Prime Minister Sali Berisha and the Socialist Party led by his arch rival, Tirana's mayor, Edi Rama.

Three days after voting ended in Sunday's parliamentary elections – seen as a crucial test of the country's democratic credentials as Albania, a new member to NATO, applies for membership to the European Union – near-complete results showed the Democrats were ahead by just more than one percentage point.

Democrats claimed victory Wednesday, but it was unclear whether Mr. Berisha had secured enough seats in Parliament needed to govern alone. Senior Socialist party official Ditmir Bushati accused the Democrats of hatching a "black plan to grab our victory," adding that "these elections, unfortunately, have fulfilled no standard. The result has been significantly deformed."

International election observers agreed that the vote did not meet international standards. But in a joint statement issued on Monday, the foreign monitors concluded that Albania's election process demonstrated "marked improvements" over past elections marred by fraud and violence. The overall progress, including the lack of violence Sunday, will have to be weighed against these most recent electoral shortcomings as Europe considers Albania's bid to join the EU.

"The country has matured, it has made progress, and many of the fears we had only some months ago have not materialized," says Wolfgang Grossruck, vice-president of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) parliamentary assembly. "I'm certainly happy about the progress we saw, but there are also a considerable number of issues that need to be tackled, in particular the polarized political climate."

'No losers today'

The Democrat-led government, which was in charge of organizing the electoral process, sounded a far more positive note.

"There are no losers today," Mr. Berisha commented when the polls closed. "The poll has been a victory for the Albanian people on their route to the European Union."

However, not every one is convinced.

"By failing to make greater progress, Albania has missed a golden opportunity to put the question of its [EU] candidate status beyond doubt," says Gabriel Partos, an Eastern Europe analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit. "If Europe's economic problems exacerbate [EU] enlargement fatigue, Albania's electoral shortcomings could yet be a set-back to Albania's EU hopes over the next year or two."

US credibility on the line?

The US invested a lot diplomatic credit for Albania's accession to NATO in April, and if fraud is once again presented in the electoral process, Washington could be deeply embarrassed. More details about alleged voting irregularities are expected to emerge in coming days.

However, some analysts believe that despite Albania's shortcomings the decision to offer it NATO membership was the right one.

"The fact that the elections were far from perfect doesn't undermine the sound reasons for including Albania in NATO," says Gabriel Partos, an Eastern Europe analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit. "In any case, NATO itself is not an alliance of democratic saints, but like other multinational organizations, such as the EU, it helps 'level up' democratic standards among its newer members so they can catch up with the established democracies."

Re: Albania's electoral shortcomings could delay EU bid

Posted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 1:13 pm
by Hymniarber
I don't think Albania failed to meet the election standarts. Everything was perfectly fine until one of the parties participant realized that they were loosing electoral battle. Until then everyone was speaking of a regular process.
We just have a defeated participant not ready to accept the loss.

Re: Albania's electoral shortcomings could delay EU bid

Posted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:18 pm
by Arta
You can not have standards, when one member of KQZ against the Law comes out and says one party is victorious, when not all the boxes have been counted yet. It's not their job to take one side or another, until everything has been signed and approved by all the KQZ members.

Oh yeah were the same members that asked for the head of the commission set by BE to monitor the election, to be removed, cause Sala said so. Do not think for one moment that not only America, but most of all Europe (which likes us to death), is not keeping every single detail notes, so they can use them as an excuse to delay for what we want to achieve.

Only in Albania!

Re: Albania's electoral shortcomings could delay EU bid

Posted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:05 pm
by Zeus10
Arta wrote:You can not have standards, when one member of KQZ against the Law comes out and says one party is victorious, when not all the boxes have been counted yet. It's not their job to take one side or another, until everything has been signed and approved by all the KQZ members.

Oh yeah were the same members that asked for the head of the commission set by BE to monitor the election, to be removed, cause Sala said so. Do not think for one moment that not only America, but most of all Europe (which likes us to death), is not keeping every single detail notes, so they can use them as an excuse to delay for what we want to achieve.

Only in Albania!
It's KQZ duty to claim preliminary results of the election. It's exactly what the spokesperson did with his appearance in the press conference. The only thing against law was that they were too late claiming the preliminary results.

Re: Albania's electoral shortcomings could delay EU bid

Posted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:47 pm
by Arta
I would say this is a very close one so no one should claim victory or defeat yet!
The opposition has every right to contest and even hold rallies just like Saliu did in 2001 in the "Scanderbeg" square, cause he would not admit the huge defeat he got from PS. Until every vote gets counted and all the parties are satisfied in this very tight election, it is the right of everyone to continue with the contest.

I am sure if Sala was in this situation he would do the same, which seeing his election history he has.
Let's wait and see, what is the rush of people wanting to declare a winner, is just a week, other places have taken longer than that.