News

Albania Opposition End Boycott of Parliament

September 5, 2011
The Socialist parliamentary group is expected to abandon its three-month boycott of parliament, protesting against alleged irregularities in the May 8 local elections.
Albania’s assembly in a plenary session in 2011 | Photo courtesy of www.parlament.al

“No official decision was taken to abandon parliament, so there’s no official decision to return – but from Monday we should be in there,” Socialist MP Ditmir Bushati told Balkan Insight.

Bushati recalled that the Socialist parliamentary group had ceased attending the assembly as the dispute unfolded over the election result for the mayor of Tirana.

Tirana was the key battleground in the local elections, pitting opposition leader Edi Rama against former interior minister Lulzim Basha.

Rama had served as mayor of the capital for three consecutive terms and the mayor’s office was considered central to the Socialists’ power structure.

Basha won the race by a razor-thin margin of 93 ballots out of a quarter of a million, following a controversial decision by Albania’s Central Electoral Commission, CEC, to include the so-called miscast ballots in the final tally.

A preliminary tally, before the re-evaluation of stray ballots by the CEC, had put Rama ahead of Basha by a margin of ten votes.

Following the CEC decision, the Socialists abandoned parliament and launched a series of protests against what they called outright electoral fraud by the ruling Democratic Party controlled commission.

After two months of legal wrangling, Albania’s Electoral College – a specialized appeals court for election disputes – on July 8 rejected the last opposition appeal, challenging Basha’s victory.