“The election process, which was finalized on Election Day, 25 April, was held in an extremely polarized and conflictual situation, both politically and institutionally. Vote buying, voter intimidation and other election crimes were the topic of the day during the campaign and grew in intensity as Election Day approached. The extremely polarized situation escalated to conflicts and physical violence amongst or between the supporters of election contestants, reaching to physical attacks, and even a loss of life, only four days before the Election Day.” – This was stated at the Press Conference of the Coalition for Reforms, Integration and Consolidated Institutions (KRIIK Albania) held today, in which the Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions on the Parliamentary Elections of April 25, 2021 was presented.
KRIIK positively assess the fact that this harsh political rhetoric and the incidents that accompanied the last days of the campaign stopped and did not harm the image of election day. The legal framework constitutes and provides the guarantees to conducting an electoral process with standards, as long as the main political and administrative will is constructive and law-abiding.
The unilateral constitutional amendments of July 2020, and the subsequent legal amendments of October 2020, further violated the principles of public consultation and transparency, as well as the trust placed by the parties on the 5 June Agreement. Moreover, these interventions were not in line with good practices for democratic elections, as they constituted major changes to the electoral legal framework, less than a year before elections.
The re-dimensioned CEC institution has manifested an overall responsibility and transparency in organizing, functioning and decision-making, as well as a positive cooperative approach with media, civil society and political stakeholders.
The behavior of the CSC and of the Regulatory was found to be politically influenced, which was clearly seen in the views expressed by the members of these commissions regarding issues whereof the position of political parties was divided.
With regards to the right of Albanian voters who permanently reside outside the territory of the Republic of Albania, attempts to make it possible failed, which constitutes a missed opportunity as well as a violation of the political parties’ commitments in compliance with the 5 June 2020 Agreement.
Even though it was easily foreseeable that the 25 April elections would be held during a pandemic, the political parties did not regard this as an issue at any point during their talks in the Political Council, as far as it is known and made public. The Albanian state failed to satisfy its obligation to guarantee all its citizens the right to vote, an undeniable and unalienable right that International Conventions ratified by the Albanian state, as well as the Albanian Constitution recognize to its citizens.
The forced self-quarantine of citizens who could come from Greece or Northern Macedonia, was another restriction and violation of the right to vote, and cannot be justified in any way with the arguments provided by the Technical Committee.
The campaign was also accompanied by harsh rhetoric, denigrating language against the opponent, accusations and counter-accusations abut vote buying, in line with the behavior of election contestants during the early election campaign. This type of political discourse without content during the election campaign diverted the attention from the main concrete plans and programs of the competing political parties in this process, which on the other hand were absent and were not formally made public.
The state police took no position nor penalized political parties contesting the election about violation of restriction measures to fight the pandemic. In the meantime, the behavior was completely different towards two independent candidates, who were fined for violation of the rules against rallies, thus violating the principle of equality in the race of election opponents.
The voting process on election day ran smoothly and generally, it was well managed on the procedural aspect, except for some issues, mainly with the Electronic Identification Device in a number of voting centers. The sporadic incidents that occurred, as far as it was informed and addressed, are not deemed to have affected the integrity of the voting process. The illegal influence and various forms of voter intimidation near the polling station premises remain of great concern, in line with the indications for organized voting structures, as reported in KRIIK interim reports as well as in the media, concludes the Statement of KRIIK on Preliminary Findings and Conclusions.
April 26, 2021
STATEMENT OF PRELIMINARY FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
Parliamentary Elections of 25 April 2021
The full text of the Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions can be found HERE.
To watch the full video recording of the Press Conference please CLICK HERE.