We are just a few months away from the June 30, 2019, elections for local government bodies. In the Assembly of Albania, the majority has submitted a draft for some amendments to the Electoral Code in force, while the Speaker of Parliament of Albania, in a meeting with reporters, referring to this draft, said that he will not start parliamentary procedures without opposition consensus.
The Central Election Commission, concerned about delays in amendments to the Electoral Code, has spoken publicly twice and has called upon political parties to put an end to this delay that creates difficulties for the normal activity of the CEC as well as the normal conduct for enforcing the law in the different phases of the electoral process.
The Albanian Helsinki Committee expresses the concern that delays for the amendments to the Electoral Code may be accompanied by harmful consequences. Given that elections are an important moment when the people elect their representatives, this problems relates to one of their fundamental rights, that of free and fair elections and required standards, and therefore AHC deems it necessary to state the following:
- a) We call upon the majority and the opposition to dialogue in the interest of the public and every citizen, who should be guaranteed the right to elect freely and fairly. Approval of amendments to the Electoral Code requires reaching a qualified majority in voting (at least 84 votes). However, AHC reiterats that electoral reform may not and should not be the monopoly of the two largest parties. Smaller parliamentary parites have a right to present their opinions and reservations and be effectively involved in the process for amendments to the Electoral Code.
- b) AHC is aware that political will is very important, but it really becomes such when it operates through contemporary laws. In this case, political will should first of all be expressed by addressing in the new Electoral Code the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations and then, of concerns that any subject may have about the rigorous implementation of the law.
- c) Delays in amending the Electoral Code cause difficulties in the activity of the CEC, the main body for the administration of elections. In the 2017 elections, the CEC tolerated violations of electoral deadlines, which led to different stances in addressing the same issues.