Heightened political tensions overshadow Albanian election and EU accession prospects

Amid heightened political tensions, local elections in Albania are scheduled for today. Accusing the government of rigging previous elections and associating with

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Photo: Reuters

Amid heightened political tensions, local elections in Albania are scheduled for today.

Accusing the government of rigging previous elections and associating with organised crime, the opposition Democratic Party are refusing to participate. In half of the municipalities only one candidate—of the ruling Socialist Party—is contending. Already, ballot boxes have been destroyed and election equipment torched by opposition protestors.

Amid the chaos, the European Union has postponed a decision on whether Albania is ready for membership negotiations until October. In an effort to show Albania’s commitment to democracy, Albanian President Ilir Meta moved to postpone today’s elections to October 13 to allow time for them to become inclusive of the opposition. However, election officials have overruled Mr Meta, while Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has also insisted that the election go ahead today. After all, postponement due to a boycott could also exemplify Albanian’s institutions as too undeveloped for membership.

If today’s voting goes ahead and the results are declared as legitimate, expect violent clashes between police and protestors. If the government is not able to quell the unrest and engage with the opposition, expect the European Union to postpone membership talks for several years.

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