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Un topo sur les élections parlementaires albanaises de juin 2013

8 avril 2013

Une fois n’est pas coutume, cet article sera dans la langue de Shakespeare. C’est que je suis un pensionnaire régulier du forum suivant : http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php et c’est pour ce forum que j’ai rédigé le topo. Il est à noter, ce que je n’ai pas précisé dans l’article, que les deux principaux partis sont pour le mariage homosexuel et devraient le passer pendant la prochaine législature, faisant ainsi de l’Albanie le premier pays « majoritairement musulman » à en faire ainsi. Merci Enver Hoxha ! 😀

The parliamentary elections in Albania will happen on June 23rd, 2013.

 

The country is therefore divided into 12 electoral regions that elect a number of 4 to 32 (for the capital Tirana) deputies with a proportional representation system.

 

There are a total of 140 deputies to elect, absolute majority is at 71.

 

Albania is basically bipartism with a few minor national actors sometimes relevant and a few local actors, you can say a bit like France nowadays.

 

The parties usually form coalitions which share frighteningly close names (Alliance for Change and Unification for Changes in 2009, Alliance for the Citizens and Alliance for the Future in 2011…), where a huge number of microscopic irrelevant parties coalesce, but win no seats, except for one or two parties that win one. It is widely acknowledged that the two main blocs, however, are just short of two sides of the same coin.

 

There is a strong geographical divide between North and South, I don’t know why yet but I’ll look into it. Tirana is in between, and a swing city : it switched from the socialist to the democrats in 2011.

 

The main parties are the following :

 

– The Democratic Party (PD) is the usual center-right conservative party, observer member of the EPP and full member of the International Democrat Union. It is pro-EU accession. It is globally favored in northern Albania. It polled 40.2% and 68 seats in the last 2009 election.

 

– Its only noticeable junior member in alliances is the Republican Party, which was basically a bit more right-wing and anti-EU, but that one left the Alliance for Europe of Nations and has now adopted a much more EU-friendly platform, so it’s basically the right-wing of the DP. It polled 2.1% and one seat in 2009.

 

The Alliance as a whole polled 47% and took one more seat to have 70 seats, just one short of absolute majority.

 

– The Socialist Party (PS), although the distant heir to Hoxha’s only-party, is now the classical social-democrat party, associate member of the PES and member of the Socialist International. It seems to also favour EU accession. It is favored in southern Albania broadly speaking. It polled 40.9% and 65 seats in 2009.

 

– One of two noticeable partners in Alliances is the Social Democratic Party, which is exactly what it says on the tin. It seems to have been the Albanian member of the Socialist International back in 1992 when the other one was not enough distant from the old regime. Now it’s only observer to SI. While it has held seats before, it only polled 1.8% last time and no seats.

 

– The other one is a bit more interesting, the Unity for Human Rights Party, which is a minorities representation party, but mostly the party of the Greek minority in Albania. As you can expect, it has some strongholds in far southern Albania, but polls very weak elsewhere. It was in an Alliance with the DP before 2009, when it switched allegiance to the SP coalition. A move that evidently proved unpopular for they fell from 4.1% and 2 seats to 1.2% and just one seat. This MP eventually left the party to join DP and became Minister of Labour. We’ll speak of this man again in a short while. In the 2011 local elections, their preferred election, it went on to lose a number of councillors in a few strongholds.

 

This Alliance as a whole polled 45.3% and therefore had 66 seats. So there was a kingmaker.

 

– The Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI), a split of the Socialist in 2004, mostly youth appealing at start, maybe a bit more Euro enthusiastic, but otherwise not very different from the social-democracy basics. They polled a total of 4.9% and their vote was quite evenly distributed from North to South, although a bit more in the South. They got one deputy in four different regions. Their Alliance (with 5 other parties !) polled 5.6%.

 

It was feared for a while that they would side with the SP Alliance and end up in a 70-70 deadlock, but they eventually accepted the DP’s invitation to form government to stabilise Albania’s path towards EU accession, the official application having been sent to Brussels in April 2009. However, they just recently (last week) left this government to prepare for the election and allow themselves to seek a left-wing coalition with the PS instead after the vote…

 

The 2013 election will comprise of the same, with the adjunction of two more forces :

 

– The Red and Black Alliance (AK), a movement seemingly started in football supporters’ circles. It claims a 200,000 membership, in a country of roughly 3 million. It is something of an anti-corruption, patriotic, human rights watch platform, headed by the former deputy chair of the High Council of Justice. It’s not clear whether they are pro or anti-EU, and they seem to be advocating for the unification with other Albanian neighboring people, namingly in Kosovo and Macedonia. But I’m not under the impression that they are nationalist to the point of being neo-fascist like Jobbik or Golden Dawn. As a matter of fact, remember that Minister of Labour from the Greek minority party ? They denounced him to the authorities last January for having connections with Golden Dawn and advocating Northern Epirius irredentism to Greece. I really don’t know the veracity of these accusations though, as all sources are in Albanian… Former President Topi, who distanced himself with is Democratic Party while in office, was rumored to chair AK when leaving office in 2012, but he chosen to launch his own outfit after all :

 

– The New Democratic Spirit (FRD), a clear attack on PD sclerosis, was launched by Bamir Topi upon stepping down as President in April 2012. Topi seems to be acknowledged to be a moderate and bipartisan guy, pretty respected. He didn’t like how the PD PM, Berisha, managed government from 2009 on, and ended splitting. Its outfit seems very pro-EU, and liberal conservative on other issues, maybe just a bit more centrist than PD, maybe a little less corrupt, but I don’t know.

 

So that’s the field for next June. Opinion polling in 2009 had proved quite on the spot, better than exit-polling that had shown a larger PD victory. Opinion polling now is approximately this (last polls from January though) :

 

PS 40-41%

PD 30-31%

AK 14-15%

LSI 4-5%

FRD 4-5%

 

So basically it’s a real momentum for AK, which is mostly building it on the PD base. It’s also taking a bit of PS, cause these figures are for coalitions, not parties. LSI remains at around the same level of support, but will not be the main kingmaker if things stay the same. It’s not yet clear how AK MPs would side in a government, maybe they would make it Grillo style for a while, and end up siding with the better offer. It would be hard for FRD to enter Parliament, since in 2009 for example LSI got heir four seats with 11%, 8%, 6.5% and 5.2% in four regions, the latter being Tirana. Maybe the former President has a stronghold though, or could get those critical 5 or so percent in Tirana if he is running there.

 

Generally though, the reaction of OSCE and the EU to the 2009 and 2011 elections was of this kind.

 

Elections have huge flaws, and this time they should really make this right if they want to have even the slightest chance at pursuing EU accession application.

 

 

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