TIRANA, September 30 – The May 2023 local elections in Albania were generally well-administered, competitive and held with the participation of the key political forces, but the process was characterized by continued polarization between the main political parties and deep division within the opposition, has said a press release issued by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights on the final report on Albania’s 2023 local elections published on September 29, 2023 by the OSCE/ODIHR.
It is noted in the report that mention is made as the main conclusions that contestants could campaign freely, but cases of misuse of state resources at central and local levels, claims of pressure on public-sector workers and voters, and allegations of vote buying were of concern. While election day was generally peaceful, the process was negatively affected by numerous cases of party interference as well as technical and procedural problems, widespread group voting and problems with the secrecy of the vote.
In the meantime the report offers 27 recommendations to bring elections in Albania closer in line with OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections.
One of the key recommendations is the identifying and independently investigating all allegations of electoral violations, including vote-buying, pressure on voters and misuse of state resources.
Opposition has continuously provided evidence on the electoral violations which as a matter of fact is something common in all elections held in this Balkan country.
ODIHR recommended in its report that genuine efforts should be made to raise awareness about the long-standing phenomenon of vote-buying and publicly condemning such practices and enforce effective safeguards ensuring the secrecy of the vote and preventing intimidation of voters, group and proxy voting.
Another recommendation was the ensuring of proper implementation of the law on the right to information, decriminalizing defamation and supporting independent journalism.
ODIHR deployed an Election Observation Mission on 7 April 2023 to observe the local elections. All 57 participating States across the OSCE region have formally committed to following up promptly on ODIHR’s election assessments and recommendations. /argumentum.al