The Central Election Commission announced on Tuesday that only the governing Socialist Party handed in its members list for the Local Electoral Administration Commissions within the March 18 deadline, while the opposition’s Democratic Party and Socialist Movement for Integration chose not to propose any candidates.
The local electoral administration commissions (KZAZ) play a vital role in administering local elections, which are to take place on June 30.
By submitting its candidate list on time, the SP attempted to show everything is going normally in the country. Prime Minister Edi Rama gave the same message of maintaining a normal parliamentary situation to the Socialist MPs – the only MPs remaining in parliament after the opposition collectively resigned its mandates two weeks ago – one day before submitting its candidate list.
Meanwhile, refusal to submit their KZAZ candidates list is the first sign from the DP and the SMI that they will be boycotting the upcoming local elections.
Missing the KZAZ deadline has occurred before in the past.
During the 2017 election campaign, all parties failed to submit a full list until a few days before the elections, leaving large areas of voting without sufficient preparation.
The tactic of postponing the publication of the names of commissioners in polling stations is a party-recognized tactic and aims to reduce the risk that opposing parties “buy” commissioners ahead of the election.
The electoral reform, required by the EU and OSCE/ODHIR, is supposed to remove any political influence in the selection process of election commissioners.
However, now that the opposition has left parliament, there is little chance that the reform will be adopted and implemented before the next elections.
On Monday, Rama also assigned former minister Damian Gjiknuri as electoral reform coordinator, although he was dismissed from duty in December 2018 due to his involvement with the DH Albania scandal – a ghost company that received almost 30 million euros through government tenders.
Relying on the prosecution’s interceptions, which were published by VOA last month, the opposition also claims Gjiknuri was the chief SP official who led the vote buying in Dibra district during the 2017 elections.