Press rlelase - 415(2011)

Albania’s local elections were competitive and transparent, but political parties acted irresponsibly, observers say

Tirana, 10.05.2011 – Albania’s local elections were competitive and transparent, but took place in an environment of high polarization and mistrust between governmental parties and the opposition, international observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities concluded in a statement issued today.

The observers noted that, as in previous elections, the two largest political parties did not discharge their electoral duties in a responsible manner. This negatively affected the administration of the entire process.

“Several aspects of these elections lay the groundwork for future progress. But unfortunately the two largest political parties again abused their role in the administration of the elections to continue their political battle. All parties should work together after the elections to further strengthen the electoral process,” said Jonathan Stonestreet, Head of the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission.

“The Congress delegation welcomes the fact that the vote generally took place in a calm atmosphere. Nevertheless, we remain concerned that the extreme polarization of political life may prevent the constructive dialogue necessary to address citizens’ needs and ensure good local governance. The Congress stands ready to support Albania in setting up conditions for good co-operation between political actors,” said Hana Richtermocová, Head of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities delegation.

The Central Election Commission worked transparently, but decisions on contested issues were taken along partisan lines, and not collegially. The largest parties often did not nominate election commissioners in a timely manner and contributed to undermining confidence in the process by questioning the integrity of the election administration.

The campaign was active and all contenders were generally able to campaign throughout the country. Despite repeated calls for calm, the campaign was marred by violence in many areas. There appeared to have been significantly fewer cases of misuse of administrative resources, although there were cases of pressure on public employees.

The authorities made considerable efforts to improve the voter lists. The media offered a plurality of views, enabling voters to make an informed choice. But with most channels aligned with one of the two largest parties, there is a lack of truly independent broadcast media.

On election day, voting proceeded relatively well, albeit with procedural difficulties. Thus far, the counting has been overall transparent, but has been delayed in many areas.

For further information contact:

Jens-Hagen Eschenbächer, OSCE/ODIHR,

+355 696227947 or +48 603 683 122,

Antonella Cagnolati, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe,

+33 6 63 47 87 28,

Communication Division of the Congress
of Local and Regional Authorities
Tel: +33 (0)3 90 21 48 95
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 27 51