Albania is a new democracy with a troubled track record of democracy and has never had a fair, transparent, conclusive election. Yesterday Albania had another chance to prove to themselves and, more importantly, to the European Union, that they are capable and deserving of EU candidate status.
So, How did they do?
Compared to previous elections, this was by far the most peaceful and orderly election Albanian has ever had. Despite one killing and other violence in Lac, perhaps the most violent town in Albania, the elections were conducted peacefully and orderly. Read more about the Lac incidents below.
What were the problems?
Voter intimidation. Voter intimidation is relatively easy in Albania because almost every where is a small town where everyone knows everyone. There were reports in Elbasan city, Elbasan county, Fier, Tirana city, Korca.
Opening Late Lots of voting centers didn’t open on time which is an issue more so in the less developed country side where villagers rely on jitney transportation (informal private public transportation without fixed schedules) and when villagers have to work the fields.
Candidates themselves there were reports of Candidates, current and ex-deputies, and even one mayor of Intimidation and even fighting at voting centers.
Interruptions of voting due to small incidents There were a number of reports of voting centers being shut down for a while due to incidents between voters and KQZ election workers.
Minor violence against KQZ election officials there were a number of reports of violence against election officials. these lead to interruptions.
People taking photos of their Ballots Albania has a problem with vote buying, thus people’s taking photos of their ballots to confirm their vote to others is a large issue. People would even post them on Facebook.
Exit Poll trouble For a while in the first half of the day, exit polling was stopped by election officials and police, probably because of a lack of communication and information. this happened in Tirana, Saranda, Ksmail, Berat, Fier and Vlore. These are all very Southern cities besides Tirana. For a while I was a little worried giventhe north-south democratic-socialist divide which in 1997 became a civil war also the fact that the Socialist coalition has withdrawn from the national voting commission in protest.
Family Voting Despite efforts to stop family voting, when one guy votes for one or more of his family members, was reported.
Voter Registration Problems A number of incidents were caused because people’s names were not on the list or they only had old passports as ID. In Kukes there were reports of a few people (7-8) from Kosovo voting for PD. (including one Kosovar politician who bragged about it on Twitter)
(Kosovo and Albania are the same ethnic group and Kukes and Kosovo are especially close given their proximity and the heroic efforts of Kukes to take care of Kosovar refugees in 1998-1999.)
Illiteracy I regret to inform you that illiteracy is still a problem in Albania. This is an issue because it raises doubts over the legitimacy of the ballot that an official or someone else has filled out on behalf of an illiterate person.
Small technical problems with not enough Ballot boxes because the ballots were larger than expected. Just that, nothing you wouldn’t see in an election else where. Nothing goes perfectly.
What happened in Lac?
One member of LSI (PS coalition) was killed and 2 members of PD were wounded in an argument/shoot-out that, according to Albanian TV news, started some days ago over the hanging of political posters. It was a gun battle and the person who did the killing was the vice mayor and a PD candidate of Laç.
However you should know that the city of Laç is not at all representative of the rest of the country. In fact, Laç is known for gun violence and violence in general. This reputation goes back even to the “time of Hoxha” or when the Stalinist government was running Albania.
In fact, the Peace Corps volunteers who were placed in Lac in 2012 had to be moved to other sites in Albania because of the risk of their being a victim of violence was unacceptable.
Laç is also known for being fiercely Catholic, defending their church during communism from the most atheist government the world has ever known.
There was another incident in Lac in which a TV news camera crew was attacked and their camera destroyed after they captured election officials saying that only people with PD could vote.
Remember tho, Lac is not representative of Albania.
The Exit poll
The exit poll is based on 7266 interviews across the country. 100 interviewers with a margin of error +/- 1% or 2%. The resutls show
40% for PS and42% for PD. With coalitions combined, 48% PD coaliton 46% PS coalition.
Women vote more for PD than PS, Men equally for PD as for PS.
The issue is that to determine parliamentary majority you have to calculate how it translates into seats. This is harder to calculate and ultimately determines the results.
Results by district show small movement.
the ext poll also captured some sentiment of the populace. 92% of the people who voted for PD think country is going in right direction while 78% of the people who voted for PS think country is going in wrong direction.
Despite these problems, this was Albania’s best election by far. Now we wait for how the parties react to the official results.