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Albanian Socialist Party secures third term

April 27, 2021

Prime Minister Edi Rama has claimed victory for his party with 49% of the vote after a tumultuous campaign. His challenger, Lulzim Basha, alleged massive voting fraud.

Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama speaks to his supporters
Rama's Socialists won nearly one in two votes and enough seats in parliament to govern aloneImage: Hektor Pustina/AP Photo/picture alliance

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.

Supporters of Rama wave Albanian flag during a rally in Tirana
Supporters of Rama gathered to celebrate the prime minister's victoryImage: Hektor Pustina/AP Photo/picture alliance

"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.

Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha speaks to the media
Basha alleged massive electoral fraudImage: Gent Shkullaku/AFP/Getty Images

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.

A woman casts her ballot at a voting station
The poll is seen as vital for the country's ambitions to join the European UnionImage: Gent Shkullaku/AFP

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)