Albania's ruling Socialist Party (PS) has secured its third consecutive mandate in a parliamentary election, the Central Election Commission data showed on Tuesday.
Based on 98% of the ballots, Prime Minister Edi Rama's Socialists won 49% of the vote — equivalent to 74 of the parliament's 140 seats.
That's as many seats as they won in the previous election.
The main opposition center-right Democratic Party got 39% of the ballots — 59 seats.
What has Rama promised?
Thousands of Rama's supporters gathered in Tirana's main Skanderbeg Square to celebrate the victory, defying coronavirus restrictions.
"My dream ... is to make Albania in this decade ... the Balkan champion, in tourism and agro-tourism, in energy and agriculture and in fast, qualitative, incorruptible digital services,'' Rama said as he addressed the flag-waving crowd.
The new government, to be formed in September, is expected to work towards delivering the needed reforms for Albania to fulfill its goal of joining the EU.
The prime minister directed most of his victory speech at the opposition coalition, urging them to join the "national mega-project."
What about the opposition?
Democratic Party (PD) leader Lulzim Basha conceded defeat in a speech at his party headquarters.
Basha accused the PS of manipulating the election process, in what he called an "electoral massacre," as he pledged to continue the fight "for democracy."
"These elections had nothing to do with democracy, we entered this battle with a regime that did everything to destroy an honest election campaign," Basha told his supporters.
"I believed that due to the wonderful power of our people we would win and bring democracy back to Albania. That was not enough this time,'' he said.
How did the vote go?
Preliminary turnout was almost 48%, slightly higher than the last election four years ago.
The election was closely watched by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Western embassies.
The weekend vote went relatively smoothly. However, the election took place after a bitter campaign and violence between rival supporters.
On Wednesday, a PS supporter was killed and four people were injured in a fight between the supporters of Socialists and Democrats.
"This was the toughest, the most difficult and the most beautiful victory of the Socialist Party," Rama told his supporters.
fb/sri (AP, AFP, Reuters)