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Albania needs 23 June elections to meet Council of Europe standards, says PACE pre-electoral delegation

Strasbourg 11.06.2013 – “Albania needs the 23 June elections to meet Council of Europe standards, in order to confirm its genuine commitment to democracy, respect for the rule of law and protection of human rights,” concluded a five-member pre-electoral delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), led by Luca Volontè (Italy, EPP/CD), in a statement issued at the end of a two-day visit to Tirana (10-11 June 2013).

All Albanian political parties must show the will to restore people’s trust and confidence in the electoral process, by ensuring that the conduct of the campaign and of the voting itself is able to pave the way towards acceptance of the election result by all stakeholders.

The delegation welcomed the adoption by the Parliament, in 2012, of a series of amendments to the Electoral Code, addressing many of the concerns voiced by PACE, the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR. However, the delegation stressed the need for the election legislation to be implemented fully and in good faith during the forthcoming elections, according to both its letter and its spirit.

The delegation noted that the campaign environment was generally calm and peaceful. It regretted that the crisis over the composition of the Central Election Committee (CEC) had not yet been resolved and considered that, as long as the CEC was not perceived as being impartial, the democratic conduct of the elections was endangered. A generally-acceptable composition of the electoral administration, multi-party and institutionally independent, was urgently needed.

Interlocutors of the delegation voiced concerns over allegations of pressure on public sector workers coming from one party or another, of extended vote-buying practices, of the disregard of gender-quota requirements for the candidate lists, as well as of the lack of transparency of the campaign financing. Also, the obligation for TV channels to broadcast pre-recorded video material prepared by the parties, as such, without any editorial comment, was seen by journalists as a serious limitation of media freedom.

The delegation understood the difficulties in dealing in an appropriate way with these concerns, given the short time left until election day. However, it invites all the main political forces to join efforts in order to increase the general confidence in the elections and build public trust in their outcome. Clear evidence has recently been shown within the Parliament that such co-operation is possible and can be fruitful.

During its visit, the delegation met with the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament, the Chairperson and members of the CEC, the Minister of the Interior, representatives of the parties running in the elections, representatives of civil society and the media, the OSCE/ODIHR observation mission and members of the diplomatic corps in Tirana.

A fully-fledged delegation from PACE will return to the country to observe the voting before making a final assessment.

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Members of the delegation:
Head of delegation: Luca Volontè (Italy, EPP/CD)
Alina Ştefania Gorghiu (Romania, ALDE)
Petros Tatsopoulos (Greece, UEL)

Monitoring Committee co-rapporteurs for Albania:
Jonathan Evans (United Kingdom, EDG)
Grigore Petrenco (Moldova, UEL)

Contact: PACE Communication Division, tel. +33 3 88 41 31 93