Report on local and regional democracy in Albania - CG (3) 15 Part II revised
Rapporteurs: Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton (United Kingdom)
STATE OF THE LOCAL AND REGIONAL DEMOCRACY IN ALBANIA
On 20 and 27 October 1996 a delegation from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe and a delegation of members of the Parliamentary Assembly observed the local elections in Albania.
A joint report on those elections [CG/BUR (3) 52 rev.], co-authored by the Congress rapporteur, Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton, is appended to this memorandum. The report was approved by the Bureau of the Congress on 18 November 1996, and the Standing Committee took note of it at its meeting the same day.
This report largely explains the content of the recommendation referred to the Standing Committee for adoption. The draft recommendation was adopted by the Working Group at a meeting in Paris on 24 January. The Working Group had been set up by the Standing Committee at its meeting on 18 November 1996 in order to prepare the attached draft recommendation.
When this explanatory memorandum was first published (on 29 January 1997), the Congress had not yet received the results of municipal and regional elections held in Albania on 20 and 27 October 1996. The main emphasis was laid, therefore, on the wish to obtain the complete results of these elections . We are indeed convinced that the best way of preventing rumours of all kinds, and even suspicions of tampering, is the rapid publication of the results of such elections. This is also an essential element of the openness and transparency which a democratic State must show towards its citizens.
In the meantime, full results of the Albanian elections have been addressed to the President of the Congress, on 12 February 1997. Although it may be regretted that this was not done earlier, there is obviously no point now in asking for these results.
There are, in any case, more serious problems to be tackled in present-day Albania. We are all deeply worried and concerned by the tragedy the Albanian people are currently experiencing. Although mayors do not normally carry a responsibility for the kinds of issues involved, they are necessarily involved when violence spreads through the streets of their towns. We sincerely wish that the Albanian people will quickly find a return to the path of democratic security and civil peace. We are convinced that this is only possible through openness and transparency, as mentioned above. However, an open dialogue is also needed between all political forces, perhaps in the form of a new Round Table, and their effective co-operation in order to overcome the country's crisis.
It is only when this crisis has been overcome that patient work for an improved functioning of local democracy can recommence, hopefully along the lines developed in the Recommendation proposed for adoption.
Furthermore, the Congress would like to see an Albanian delegation among its members as soon as possible. Of the Council of Europe's forty member States Albania is presently the only one that has not yet appointed a delegation. The Congress is moreover convinced that the presence of national delegations within it is of importance in promoting the development of local democracy, especially in the Council's newest member States. These delegations have a central role in furthering the ongoing dialogue between a country's elected representatives at local and regional level and their counterparts throughout Europe.
The Albanian law on elections to local government organs of 16.6.1992 as amended by various laws, most recently that of 12.9.1996, is attached as an addendum to the report.
[CG/BUR (3) 52 rev]
OBSERVATION OF THE LOCAL ELECTIONS IN ALBANIA - 20 and 27 October 1996
Report approved by the Bureau of the Congress on 18 November 1996
1. Following the adoption of Resolution 1095 (1996) and Order 524 (1996) on the recent parliamentary elections in Albania1, invitations by the Speaker of the Albanian parliament to observe the elections and an agreement between the presidents of the Assembly and of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, a joint delegation of the Assembly and the Congress was sent to observe the local elections in Albania on 20 October 1996.
2. The conduct of recent local elections in Albania on 20 October 1996 and with a second round on 27 October 1996 was satisfactory. The elections were sufficiently free and fair. In all phases of the electoral process there was an effort to avoid incidents that had marked the parliamentary elections on 26 May 1996.
3. The electoral campaign was calm and there were no major complaints concerning the freedom of media and in particular the access to the state radio and television.
4. It may be noted with satisfaction that the recommendations formulated by the Assembly ad hoc Committee that had visited Albania from 27-30 August 1996 had been implemented by the Albanian authorities and law on local elections had been modified in spite of very short time at their disposal before the local elections took place. It is particularly important to note that the round table, convened by President Berisha, had resulted in a constructive co-operation between the majority party and the opposition and had paved the way for a change in the composition of the electoral commission on all levels. It was evident that this change, giving the opposition the right to appoint vice-chairmen of electoral commissions, had been instrumental in the good conduct of the elections. It set a positive and encouraging precedent for next elections.
5. The observation on the polling days showed that the voting and counting procedures in the great majority of the visited polling stations were conducted properly, although some of the irregularities observed have to be carefully examined by the Central electoral commission. Political parties should control the behaviour of their local representatives.
6. A number of difficulties observed in the conduct of the elections could be remedied by changes in the law on local elections and in the instructions to the members of the electoral commissions. A number of recommendations to this effect are listed below.
7. These elections are an important step in the consolidation of Albanian democracy. All parties should continue with the political dialogue and should cooperate on the legislative reform including the preparation of a new constitution. The opposition parties should, out of respect for democratic principles, take up their seats and participate in the work of the parliament. The government should continue with the round table with the participation of all political parties in order to further strengthen the political stability in the country.
B. Background to the elections
Elections on the 26 of May 1996
8. On 26 May 1996, Parliamentary elections were held in Albania. They were preceded by an electoral campaign, criticized by foreign observers for biased state media, harassment of independent newspapers and police intimidation at opposition rallies. Irregularities were observed on the polling day, although not to the extent that would have questioned the validity of the results, according to the report of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Post-election opposition demonstrations were declared illegal by the authorities who used, especially in Tirana, excessive violence to break them up.
9. Main opposition parties, led by the Socialists, withdrew from the polling stations in the afternoon of the polling day. They boycotted the second round which was held on 2 June 1996 in nine constituencies and the partial re-run in 17 constituencies on 16 June, ordered by President Berisha after allegations of serious irregularities were made.
10. A great majority of the 140 seats in the Albanian parliament were won by the Democrats. The Socialists are not participating in the new parliament in which they had won 10 seats.
11. On 26 June 1996 the Assembly adopted Resolution 1095 (1996) in which it deplored the violence and irregularities during the elections. It noted, on the basis of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's report, that the lawfulness of the results cannot be questioned. It condemned the government for the violence and both the government and the opposition for the irregularities. It also proposed a round table between all political forces with a view to change legislation to conform to the recommendations set forth in the OSCE assembly report and to commitments entered into by Albania at the time of accession. New elections should be considered after these changes in the legislation. In Order 524' (1996) adopted the same day, the Assembly instructed the Bureau to send a delegation to Albania to provide further information on elections and to send an observer delegation, possibly in liaison with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, to the forthcoming local elections.
The visit of the ad hoc committee 27-30 August
12. An ad hoc Committee of the Bureau, under the chairmanship of Lord Finsberg (UK, EDG), visited Albania from 27-30 August 1996. Meetings with President Berisha, Prime Minister Meksi and members of his Government, members of the Constitutional Court and the Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission were held. The Committee had extensive talks with representatives of all political parties in order to bring the government and political parties closer together and to help to improve the political climate in the country. Participation of the opposition in the Parliament, preparation of the local elections and co-operation on a draft for a new constitution were main topics discussed.
13. A report by Victor Ruffy (Switzerland, SOC), based on the findings of the ad hoc Committee, was presented to the Bureau on 3 September 1996 and to the Assembly on 23 September 1996. It called for amendments to the genocide act, the political rights act, the political assembly act and to the media act. A number of technical recommendations on the voting procedure were made. In addition, the report recommended that vice-chairmen of the electoral commissions at all levels should be appointed by the opposition. One round table, bringing together all political parties, should be convened and chaired by the President.
The round table and changes to the electoral law
14. The Albanian Government had implemented these recommendations in spite of very little time left before the local elections. A round table was convened by the President with the participation of all political parties. Positive outcome of this round table led to amendments to the electoral law and to the law on public meetings, passed by the Albanian Parliament on 12 September 1996. The following are some of the changes discussed at the round table:
- Deputy Chairman of each election commission at all levels would be appointed by the opposition
- broadcasting time would be divided equally between the majority and the opposition and the observance to be monitored by the Central electoral commission
- ballot papers would be simplified
- a certificate bearing a photo would be issued to serve as an identification in case of loss of identity card
- clear written instructions would be issued to police on their tasks during the elections
- no authorization would be requested for indoor meetings while procedure to obtain authorization for outdoor meetings would be simplified
- the anti-genocide law would be applied only to candidates for mayors and not for candidates for municipal and district councillors
- members of the electoral commission would be obliged to sign the protocols and risked severe sanctions if they withdrew from the commission during polling day.2
15. The Socialist Party, although claiming that changes did not go far enough and that there were serious problems in the implementation of the law, have shown a co-operative and constructive attitude, respecting their commitment to participate in the local elections.
Invitation to co-ordinate the observation of the local elections
16. On 30 July the Speaker of the Albanian Parliament invited the Parliamentary Assembly to co-ordinate with the Central Electoral Commission on the monitoring of the local elections. A delegation of the Assembly, as well as of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities were also invited to take part in observation of the elections. The Bureau accepted the invitation to co-ordinate the monitoring at its meeting on 3 September 1996. In accordance with Order 524 (1996) it was decided to send a joint delegation with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, who was also invited to observe the elections. The Bureau asked two former presidents of the Assembly Louis Jung and Karl Ahrens, to act as advisors to the Bureau on this mission. The Clerk of the Assembly set up a secretarial team, in co-operation with the Congress and the Directorate of political affairs, for co-ordination and preparation of observation, which was present in Albania well before the elections.
C. State of local democracy in Albania
17. On 26 July 1992, when Albania had just become a candidate country for entry into the Council of Europe, a delegation of the Congress observed the first local elections; they were declared free and fair, without major irregularities; main difficulties were caused by lack of appropriate material and by other aspects due to the very bad economical situation at that time. For further details concerning this observation, see report CPL/P (27) 27 of 31 August 1992.
18. From 15-17 May 1995, the Rapporteur for the Congress Lady Farrington visited Albania, accompanied by Nicolas Levrat, Consultant and legal expert, with a view to assess the state of local and regional democracy prior to the examination of the Albanian candidature for entering the Council of Europe that took place on 13 July 1995. For more details, see the main remarks set out in report CG/Bur (1) 80 of 27 May 1995. An emphasis was made in particular on the need for clarification of the sharing of competencies between the different tiers of government, improvement of the redistribution of resources to be in conformity with the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, need for the establishment of associations representing all levels of local authorities.
19. In July 1996, another visit to Albania took place3, with Lady Farrington accompanied by Nicolas Levrat, in order to discuss progress made in the revision of the law on the organisation of local government in Albania as well as to establish contacts in view of the preparation of the local elections and the revision of the law on local elections.
20. In September, Nicolas Levrat returned once more to Albania and produced, with a contribution by Alain Delcamp, an opinion on the draft revised law on local self-government upon request from the Albanian government , concerning in particular its compatibility with the European Charter on Local Self-Government, which has not yet been signed by Albania. This opinion was forwarded to the Albanian government in late September 1996. From the most recent contacts with the Albanian Secretary of State on Local Government, it appears that the revised text is still under examination, and that most of the remarks made by the European experts have been taken into account.
21. It goes without saying that the holding of free and fair elections at local government level is an essential prerequisite for the functioning of the authorities concerned. But it is equally important that their competence, their structures and their way of operating be clearly defined in a democratic spirit based on the principle of subsidiarity. It is hoped, therefore, that the revised law can soon be adopted.
22. After the successful completion of these elections, the Congress of Local and Regional authorities of Europe is now looking forward to an increased cooperation with the newly elected mayors, presidents of kommuna councils, presidents of municipal and district councils, and with the competent government departments.
23. It is hoped that such co-operation will in particular cover the following aspects:
- the designation of an Albanian delegation to CLRAE, in conformity with the principles laid down in the Charter and the Rules of procedure.
- the signature and ratification by Albania of major Council of Europe conventions in the field of local government such as the European Charter on Local Self-Government, the European Outline Convention of Trans-frontier Co-operation between local authorities and the European Charter on Regional or Minority Languages.
- legal assistance to Albanian authorities on issues such as local government finance, local government property and management, status and training of local government elected representatives and staff,
- co-operation, training seminars, study visits concerning all theoretical and practical fields of local government activities, including the items mentioned above, but also sensitive questions such as urban planning, local infrastructure, public transport, water and waste management, environment and landscape protection, building conservation and security, economic development and job creation.
24. We are aware of the difficulties local authorities in our countries experience when confronted with such difficult issues. In a country in rapid transition in many fields, it is all the more important to give help in order to build up solid political and administrative structures at local level that may help the country to master its future for the forthcoming years and decades.
D. Observation of local elections
25. Several preparatory visits had been carried out in preparation of the mission. During the first visit from 13-15 of September by the Deputy Clerk of the Assembly, contacts had been established with various ministries and with the Central electoral Commission.4
26. Second visit took place from 30 September to 2 October 1996. The delegation was led by a former president of the Assembly Karl Ahrens, who had been asked, together with another former president Louis Jung, to act as a consultant to the Bureau on this mission of observation. Meetings were held with, among others, President Berisha, Prime minister, Speaker of the Albanian parliament and representatives of Albanian political parties.5
27. On 13-14 October 1996, Claude Haegi, President of the Congress paid a short visit to Albania6. However, he was able to meet President Sali Berisha, the Secretary of State responsible for Local authorities, the Chairman of the Central electoral committee, the President of the Albanian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly and, last but not least, representatives of the two major political forces in Albania, the Democratic Party and the Socialist Party. President Berisha undertook to reassure his host on the firm will of the Albanian government to ensure free and fair elections. In the various talks, items such as establishment of voters' lists, the setting up and composition of electoral committees and the training of their
members, the information of the public on new electoral procedures and the opening hours of polling stations were discussed. All partners concerned were looking at these elections as a test for the democratic development of the country and were willing to contribute to their successful organisation.
28. In the days before the elections, members of the Council of Europe secretariat carried out a number of visit to different regions, including the districts of Elbasan, Fieri, Lushnje and Skhodra, during which they met with representatives of district and municipal electoral commissions, representatives of local authorities and local representatives of political parties.
Meetings of the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and the two rapporteurs of the Council of Europe delegation with the Chairman of the Central electoral commission, the Foreign Minister, President Berisha and representatives of Albanian political parties (18-19 October 1996)
29. During the meeting on Friday, 18 October, the Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission Nestor Thereska presented the preparatory work carried out by the Commission and outlined some of the difficulties encountered. Our general impression of the functioning of this body, with which the Council of Europe has developed fruitful co-operation all through the election process, is positive. The Vice-Chairman of the Commission, appointed by the Socialist party, listed some complaints, concerning mostly polling stations situated in inadequate (private) buildings and late distribution of instructions to members of electoral commissions. He stressed, however, that there had always been frank and open debate on these issues in the Central Electoral Commission. Representatives of the Democratic party have, in return, criticised the Socialist party for organising training seminars for their members of the electoral commissions, which, in their view, was not in accordance with the law.
30. The Chairman, Vice-Chairman and the two Rapporteurs met with Foreign Minister Shehu on Thursday, 18 October in the evening. Main topics of the discussion was the disagreement between the Albanian Government and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The Albanian government, after inviting ODIHR to observe the elections, had limited the number of observers ODIHR was allowed to deploy, which led to the withdrawal of ODIHR and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. The Council of Europe delegation made a statement7 in which it regretted the absence of the OSCE. It is clear that the organisations invited to observe the elections should be free in deciding in which way they could best carry out their tasks.
31. In a meeting with President Berisha on Saturday 19 October 1996, the Chairman of the Council of Europe delegation expressed its satisfaction with the way Albanian authorities responded to recommendations formulated by the Assembly's ad hoc Committee in early September. The results are particularly impressive given the short time before the elections. He was critical with regard to the conflict with ODIHR and regretted their absence. President Berisha explained his position on the matter and described it as a moral question having to do with a confidence crisis that existed between ODIHR and the Albanian government. Some of the ODIHR observers had, allegedly, also been invited by the Socialist party. President Berisha criticised the ODIHR press release issued after the May elections, which had not mentioned the opposition boycott of the counting procedure. He was, however, optimistic for future relations between the two. He commented on some of the difficulties encountered in the run up to elections. Electoral lists were not perfect, but they were the responsibility of local authorities, which were, in more then 50%, controlled by the opposition. The change in the composition of the electoral commissions should be an effective remedy against any difficulties concerning electoral lists. Names of immigrants presently in Greece and other countries could not be deleted from the lists, as had been requested by the opposition. These people, if they showed up on the polling day, had a right to cast their vote. He encouraged full co-operation with the Central Electoral Commission and offered logistic support to enable the members of the Council of Europe delegation to investigate any allegations of irregularities. He was confident that the elections would be free, fair and calm. Boycott of any kind and in particular a boycott of the vote counting should not happen again.
32. In a meeting with representatives of Albanian opposition on Saturday 19 October the President of the delegation underlined all parties responsibilities in the free and fair conduct of the elections. He called for party representatives to follow the official procedure for forwarding any complaints to the Central electoral commission. Alleged cases where this would fail, could then be reported to the Council of Europe delegation for verification.
Co-ordination of observation and co-operation with other observer groups
33. Increased human and financial resources were needed to carry out the task of co-ordination and observation. The delegation was larger than it is usually the case in observations of elections. A larger than usual number of members of secretariat was present in Albania some time before the elections in order to provide logistic support to the mission. For the observation itself, a joint Council of Europe delegation was set up with members of the Assembly and the Congress.
34. - The Council of Europe acknowledges the financial assistance provided from the European Union's Phare Programme to support the monitoring process. It also wishes to thank the European Community Monitor Mission in Tirana, which provided valuable logistic support to our mission.
35. - The Council of Europe delegation wishes to thank the Ambassadors of the Council of Europe members states and the US Ambassador in Tirana for productive co-operation. The dinner hosted by the Ambassador of Switzerland and the presence of the Ambassadors at the briefings on Friday 18 October and Friday 25 October, allowed the members of the Council of Europe delegation to gather important additional information on the situation in the country. The Italian Ambassador hosted co-ordination meeting on 25 and 28 October.
36. The Assembly agreed with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to co-ordinate observation of their parliamentarians. Unfortunately, the OSCE Assembly withdrew following the dispute between the Albanian Government and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The Assembly regrets the absence of OSCE8 and considers that it should be left to each observer delegation to decide in which way it sees proper to carry out its tasks.
37. Observation activities were concerted with other observer groups present, in particular with the US National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute, as well as with a large group of observers sent by the Italian Government and with Greek and Austrian Observers, as well as with the Chairperson of the European Parliament's Committee on Relations with Balkan States Mrs Doris Pack. Effective co-operation developed in some regions of observation, where Council of Europe observers and other observers worked together to ensure effective observation in largest possible area. Although this co-operation worked sufficiently well, the role of co-ordinator should be better defined. If the Council of Europe is, in future, to undertake the responsibility of co-ordinating an observation mission, it must be in position to determine, in advance, which observer groups will be part of co-ordination and how available resources are allocated.
Polling Day on 20 October 1996
38. The members of the Council of Europe delegation were deployed in 24 teams, covering all major cities and selected voting districts in the countryside. Areas of observation had been chosen in consultation with the diplomatic representatives of the Council of Europe members states, to cover widest possible geographic area and to include areas considered sensitive.
39. Statistical data on observation shows that 291 polling stations with almost 200 000 registered voters were visited9. Voting procedure was good in 68% of the visited polling stations, satisfactory in 29% and bad in 3%). With regard to the counting, the procedure was good in 60 % of the cases, satisfactory in 38% and bad in 2%. At one polling station the irregularities observed were serious enough to warrant invalidation of the results at that polling station.10
40. The most serious irregularity was observed in a polling station in Tirana where more ballots than the number of people that had voted were found in the ballot boxes. According to the reports of the observers deployed by the Italian government, the incidents involving ballot stuffing occurred also in two polling stations in the districts of Vlora and Berat.
41. Other irregularities observed were on the whole of much less serious nature and have not had any significant consequences on the outcome. They involved late opening of polling stations, failure to count and sign the ballots before the opening of the station, husbands and wives voting together, voting without proper identification papers - occurring mostly in small villages - failure to publish the results at the polling stations immediately after the count, late updating of the electoral lists etc. Although some of these irregularities carried the risk of possible manipulation, this danger was effectively reduced by the presence of the opposition vice-chairmen and representatives in the electoral commissions. It has to be stressed however, that in future, in order to eliminate the risks of manipulation of results, the letter of the law should be more strictly observed. Certain changes in the electoral law, which would make the procedures clearer, more transparent and practical, are necessary in order to allow this.
42. It should also be said that our observers had many reports on alleged serious irregularities, involving mostly intimidation of opposition members in the polling station commissions. The cases that were verified proved these reports were largely exaggerated or plainly untrue, although it may not be excluded that some incidents of this nature did occur.
Second round of local elections, 27 October 1996
43. The second round of local elections in Albania took place in 31 districts in which no candidate had obtained the required majority on 20 October. The observers of the Council of Europe delegation, deployed in 7 teams, visited 8 out of 21 districts where international observers were present. The results of the observation was generally satisfying11, although several irregularities, including some incidents involving attempts by some party representatives to interfere with free and fair voting process, were observed and should be carefully examined by the Central electoral Commission.
44. The delegation identified two main sources of irregularities during the second round. Firstly, a number of errors were made caused by lack of knowledge and experience in implementing the law on elections.
45. Secondly, a number of incidents were caused by direct and excessive interference by local representatives of political parties during the voting. such interference ranked from attempts to influence voters and members of polling station election commissions, to intimidation.
46. However, the delegation concluded that apart from these isolated incidents, in the districts which we visited, the polling was sufficiently free and fair to be accepted as a reliable expression of the voters' preference.
E. Recommendations to improve the electoral law and election procedures
47. Clear and precise instructions for members of the electoral commissions and members of police on their respective tasks should be prepared and distributed sufficiently in advance. Proper training should be provided.
48. A number of procedures, and in particular stamping and signing of ballots before opening of the polling station, counting of votes and production of protocols and their copies, should be revised in order to make them more practical and easier to implement.
49. The electoral lists should be improved to avoid omitting names or listing the same person twice or more. They should be prepared in alphabetical order, which would also facilitate the work of the polling station committee. The official deadline (48 hours) for changes to the electoral list should be strictly respected. Rules on identification of voters should be strictly respected. In future, when necessary administrative conditions exist, a single type of identification paper, or even a voters card would be recommendable.
50. Voting of conscripts, prisoners, students and patients in hospitals creates some problems as it may have, in particular in smaller communities, a decisive impact on the outcome of local elections and at the same time deprives these voters of voting in their areas of origin. Possibilities of proxy voting should therefore be considered.
51. Changes in composition of electoral commissions at all levels, with chairmen being appointed by the government party and vice-chairmen by the opposition, had a very positive influence in the conduct of these elections. This could be further improved by chairmen of electoral commissions being appointed by the party that has the majority in the local authority concerned. Vice-chairmen would then be appointed by parties that are in local opposition. Alternates should be designated in order to avoid last minute appointments for replacement.
52. Polling stations should be situated only in public buildings and not in private buildings. They should be easily accessible and sufficiently large to allow for normal conduct of the voting procedure.. The rule that the ballot boxes should be at least 3 meters from the table of the polling station commission should be strictly respected. Sealing of ballot boxes with plasticine was inadequate and should be improved.
53. The maximum number of voters per polling station should be reduced to 500 or 600.
54. Lists of candidates should be clearly posted, in an equal and official manner, at the entrance or inside the polling station.
55. The secrecy of voting should be improved, in particular by ensuring that there are not several people in the same polling booth.
56. Voting hours from 8.00 till 21.00 were unnecessarily long and the polling stations could be closed earlier, at 19.00.
57. Excessive formalism was often applied in assessing the validity of ballots. Their invalidity at many polling stations was very high. In our opinion they should be declared valid if the voter's intention is clearly identifiable. Putting political party symbols on the ballot papers could facilitate voting for illiterates.
58. After the count is completed and the protocols signed, the results should immediately be published outside the polling station. Electoral commissions at higher levels should publish preliminary results immediately upon receiving the protocols. This publication, which is an essential element of democratic transparency, in no way preempts any consequent revision of results due to complaints or other reasons.
59. Political parties should accept responsibility for the behaviour of their representatives in local elections and should prohibit any intimidation or interference during polling.
60. Given the difficult technical conditions, the time between the first and second turn should be extended to at least two weeks, in order to give sufficient time for preparation.
61. F. Press release, Tirana, 22 October 1996
TIRANA, 22.10.96 - The COUNCIL OF EUROPE delegation which monitored the elections in Albania on 20 October 1996 is satisfied with the conduct of the elections, although it regrets that there were some instances of irregularities serious enough to warrant careful examination by the Central Electoral Commission.
The delegation believes that the elections were free and fair.
They reflected the will of the electorate and were also the product of thorough administrative and technical preparations that very largely complied with the requirements laid down by the Parliamentary Assembly in September 1996.
The most important of these requirements, taken on board by the President of the Republic of Albania, was to convene a Round Table with all political parties, which has determined the climate of the elections.
The delegation notes that these elections were preceded by a peaceful election campaign free of any significant incidents, and that co-operation within the polling stations on polling day was generally good.
The Council of Europe delegation hopes to have made a contribution to the consolidation of democracy in Albania. It welcomes the fruitful co-operation with the Central Electoral Commission and all political parties.
The Council of Europe delegation draws attention to the support from several other election-monitoring delegations present in Albania with which effective co-operation developed.
A joint report by the Council of Europe delegation will be presented to the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe. It will give a detailed assessment of the monitoring and set out constructive proposals on how certain shortcomings identified can be overcome.
62. G. Press release, Tirana, 29 October 1996
TIRANA, 29.10.96 - The COUNCIL OF EUROPE Observer delegation is generally satisfied with the conduct of the second round of elections on Sunday 27 October, as was the case of the local elections on 20 October, although it regrets that again there were some instances of irregularities serious enough to warrant careful examination by the Central Electoral Commission.
"These irregularities", said Andreas GROSS, member of the Swiss Parliament and spokesman of the delegation, "cause concern to the Council of Europe, with its responsibility for monitoring the democratisation process in Albania."
"There are two major areas of concern. The first relates to individual errors in the implementation of the electoral law and the need to improve the presentation of the list of voters."
"The second area of concern relates to certain serious incidents regarding the behaviour of some representatives of parties. Blatant attempts to interfere with a free and fair election process are totally unacceptable even in such a small number of cases."
Lady FARRINGTON, Rapporteur for the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, added, "In a democracy, party representatives taking part in official proceedings should obey the law at all times and any grave breaches of this trust must be dealt with. Political parties should accept responsibility for the behaviour of their official representatives in local elections".
The delegation concluded that apart from these isolated incidents in the districts visited the polling can be said to have been sufficiently free and fair to be accepted as a reliable expression of the inhabitants' preference for their future mayor or head of commune, and agreed that these elections are a definite step in the right direction.
Out of the 31 districts where no candidate had obtained the required majority on 20 October, 21 were visited by international observers, including the Council of Europe's own delegation, which consisted of members of the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.
A detailed assessment of the monitoring of both electoral rounds will be made in a joint report to be presented to the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe. The report will also set out constructive proposals on how certain shortcomings identified in the local elections could be overcome.
Composition of the joint delegation
Bureau's ad hoc Committee:
Victor Ruffy Switzerland SOC Chairman of the joint delegation
Sir Russell Johnston United Kingdom LDR Rapporteur for the Assembly
Dumeni Columberg Switzerland EPP
Ali Dincer Turkey SOC
Angelo Dionisi Italy UEL
Andreas Gross Switzerland SOC
Lisbeth Fehr Switzerland LDR
Ana Guirado Spain SOC
Birger Hagard Sweden EDG
Anatoliy Khunov Ukraine UEL
Vicenzo La Russa Italy EPP
Jean-Pierre Masseret France SOC
Andrejs Pantelejevs Latvia LDR
Francesco Parisi Italy EPP
Pilar Pulgar Spain EPP
Enrico Serra Italy LDR
Juris Sinka Latvia EDG
Sir Keith Speed United Kingdom EDG
Süha Tanik Turkey EDG
Advisors to the Bureau:
Karl Ahrens Germany
Louis Jung France
Delegation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities:
Alain Chénard, France SOC Vice-chairman of the joint delegation
Lady Farrington, United Kingdom Labour Rapporteur for the Congress
Mehmet Buldanli Turkey ANAP
Claude Casagrande France UDF
Corrado Corghi Italy Cristiano sociali
Patrizia Dini Italy PDS
Eva Enqvist Sweden Centre Party
Henry Frendo Malta Nationalist Party
Jan Mans Netherlands PVDA (Social Democrat)
Thomas Mc Cabe United Kingdom Labour
Folke Öhman Finland Swedish People's Party
Ioannis Paraskevas Greece Pasok
Diego Scacchi Switzerland FDP
Marie-Rose Wolterink-Oremus Netherlands CDA (Christian Democrat)
Karl-Christian Zahn Germany CDU
Consultant to CLRAE:
Patrick Ascheri Director,Votation Department, Geneva
Programme of the observation
1. Programme of the visit by the deputy Clerk of the Parliamentary Assembly,
13-15 September 1996
- the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Tritan Shehu
- the Minister of Justice, Mr Kristofor Peci
- the Minister of the Interior, Mr Halit Shamata
- the Secretary of State for Local Government, Mr Njazi Kosovrasti
- the Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission, Mr Nestor Thereska
2. Programme of the visit of the former President of the Parliamentary Assembly,
Mr Karl Ahrens (30 September - 2 October 1996)
- the President of the Republic, Dr Sali Berisha
- the Prime Minister, Mr Aleksander Meksi
- the Speaker of the Parliament, Mr Pjeter Arbnori
- the Secretary of State for Local Government, Mr Njazi Kosovrasti
- 10 main Political Parties
- the Members of the Central Electoral Commission
- the Members of the Parliamentary delegation to the Council of Europe
- the Ambassadors of Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and the United States of America
3. Programme of the visit of Lady Farrington, CLRAE Rapporteur for the Congress, 24-27 July 1996
Meetings with :
- the Prime Minister, Mr Aleksander Meksi
- the Secretary of State for Local government, Mr Njazi Kosovrasti
- a member of the Democratic Party, Dr Spahia
- members of the Socialist Party
- the President of the Human Rights Party, Mr Melo
- Mayors of Towns and Communes, Presidents of District Councils and Prefects
4. Programme of visit of the CLRAE President, Mr Claude Haegi, 13-14 October 1996
Meetings with :
- the President of the Republic of Albania, Mr Sali Berisha
- the Secretary of State for Local Government, Mr Njazi Kosovrasti
- the Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission, Mr Nestor Thereska
. the Leaders of the Democratic Party and the Socialist Party
Final official figures provided by the Central Electoral Commission12
Town halls (64)
Democratic Party 58 (90 %)
Socialist Party 4 (6 %)
Democratic Party 267 (86 %)
Socialist Party 15 (5 %)
Regional councils (36)
Democratic Party (53 %)
Socialist Party (31 %)
REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA
MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR
"on the elections to local government organs"
Nr 7573 of 16.06.1992
* modified by law no. 7593 of 29 July 1992, "on a new version of Article 80 of law no. 7573 of 16 June 1992 "on elections to local government organs";
* modified by law no. 7798 of 23 February 1994 "on an appendix (supplement) to law no. 7573 of 16 June 1992 "on elections to local government organs";
* modified by decree no. 1579 of 13 August 1996 "on the Central Electoral Committee of the Republic of Albania and the relevant modification to the laws on elections";
* modified by law no. 8151 of 12 September 1996 "on the modifications to law no. 7573 of 16 June 1992 "on elections to local government organs";
"on the election of local government organs"
On the basis of Article 16 of law n° 7491 of 29.04.1991 "on fundamental constitutional provisions", and on the proposal of the Council of Ministers,
The People's Assembly of the Republic of Albania
has decided as follows:
Organs of local government shall be elected by general, direct, secret and free ballot.
Local councils shall be elected by the proportional system in constituencies from multinominal lists of candidates. Mayors of communes and towns shall be elected by a majority vote in constituencies from multinominal lists of candidates.
Albanian nationals who have reached the age of 18 years on the date of the elections, with the exception of persons incapacitated by a judicial decision, shall have the right to vote.
As a general rule, voters shall exercise their right to vote in the commune, town or region where they have their place of residence.
Nationals entitled to vote shall also have the right to be elected member of a local council, mayor of a commune or mayor of a town.
Nationals who are under arrest or serving a prison sentence (actually in prison) shall not have that right.
In order to be elected mayor of a town, candidates must also meet the requirements set forth in law n° 8001 of 22.09.1995 "on the genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Albania during the communist domination for political, ideological and religious reasons", and in law n° 8043 of 30.11.1995 "on supervision of the profile of civil servants and other persons with regard to the protection of the democratic State".
This article is repealed.
Members of the armed forces, judges and public prosecutors who stand for election to a local authority organ shall resign from their duties.
Candidatures for election as member of a local council or as mayor of a commune or town shall be nominated by the "electoral subjects": political parties, groups of parties and independent candidates.
An individual may present himself or herself as a candidate only for a local government organ.
The date of the elections shall be set by the President of the Republic at least 45 days beforehand.
For the election of local government organs in each commune, town and district, relevant constituencies shall be set up.
Organisation of elections to local councils and of mayors of communes and towns
Elections to local authority organs shall be carried out on the basis of electoral rolls.
All nationals who are entitled to vote and have a temporary or permanent place of residence in the constituency where the election takes place shall be entered on the electoral roll.
An electoral role shall be drawn up for each polling station.
Electoral rolls shall state the forename, patronymic and surname of the voter, as well as his or her date of birth and registration number.
Electoral rolls shall be drawn up on the responsibility of the mayor of the town or commune and the secretary of the council concerned. Once signed, by those persons, electoral rolls shall be sent to the relevant prefectures. The prefect shall then verify them and, if necessary, settle any disputes involving them. The prefect shall inform toe Office of the State Secretary for Local Government of the number of voters in each constituency at the latest 2 days after publication of the electoral rolls.
Electoral rolls shall be kept permanently at the registry office.
The Council of Ministers shall issue the necessary texts for the accurate and timely drawing up of electoral rolls as well as for the manner in which they are to be stored and administered.
A voter shall be included only on one electoral role.
The organ responsible under the present law for drawing up the electoral rolls shall, in the case of the registration of voters temporarily resident in its territory, notify the relevant organ of the voters' permanent place of residence so as to ensure that they are not registered in two different places.
Electoral rolls shall be published by the organ that drew them up no later than 17 days before the election date.
For voters serving and living in military units and sections, electoral rolls shall be drawn up and published no later than 17 days before election day by the organs designated in Article 10 in the territory in which their military unit or section is located in co-operation with their commanding officers.
In hospitals, sanatoria and other health and rehabilitation institutions and in re-education and prevention centres, electoral rolls shall be drawn up by the authorities of such institutions and centres on the basis of the identification documents of voters. Those authorities shall inform the competent local authority organ at the place where the voters concerned usually reside so that the required amendments may be made to the electoral rolls on which they were originally registered.
When a voter is appointed member of an electoral committee or observer in a constituency or at a polling station, and is ipso facto obliged to leave his or her place of residence after the electoral roll has been published and before the election date, the electoral committee of the commune or town shall, upon written request by the "electoral subject" concerned, issue a certificate authorising him or her to vote at the place where he or she is to go and shall enter the word "away" on the original electoral roll. The voter shall then be registered on the supplementary electoral roll of the polling station of the place he or she goes to, upon presentation of the aforesaid certificate together with the voter's identity document or an equivalent document.
If a citizen dies, is registered twice, is not registered at all, does not have the right to vote, or is outside the territory of the Republic of Albania, the organ that published the electoral roll may decide to change it accordingly, but no later than 48 hours before polling starts.
Each voter shall have the right to apply personally or in writing for the rectification of errors or lacunae, such as non-registration, removal from the list, a change of name, patronymic or surname or registration of persons not entitled to vote. The application shall be made to the organ which published the list, which shall examine the request within two days and file a decision accompanied by reasons.
The decision may be appealed against before the court of first instance in the area where the constituency is located. The court shall examine the appeal at a public session and shall give a decision within three days, in the presence of the appellant and the representative of the organ that published the roll.
The decision of the court shall be final.
All changes made to electoral rolls shall be published immediately.
Electoral rolls shall be made available to "electoral subjects" by the organs that published them, upon their request and for a fee.
Voting and the counting of the votes shall take place at polling stations.
In villages a polling station shall be set up for every 100-800 voters. In towns a polling station shall be set up for every 800-1000 voters. A special polling station shall be set up in towns with fewer than 800 voters. An extra polling station shall be set up when the remaining number of voters is more than 400; if they number fewer than 400, they shall vote at the polling station closest to the constituency of their commune or town.
If an inhabited area is located further than 3 kilometres from the nearest polling station, a special polling station shall be set up if there are at least 50 voters.
Polling stations shall be designated not later than 30 days before the election date. They shall be set up by decision of the organs which published the electoral rolls, in accordance with the procedural rules followed for the publication of electoral rolls.
Polling stations shall be set up in hospitals, sanatoria, maternity clinics and other such institutions, as well as in re-education and prevention centres where there are more than 15 voters.
In health institutions which have more than one department, a separate polling station may be set up for each department that has more than 15 voters.
Elections shall be organised and run by:
a. the Central Electoral Committee;
b. the electoral committees of communes, towns and districts;
c. the committees of polling stations.
Electoral committees shall be independent bodies subject in their activities only to the law. Their members' activities shall be non-political, state activities. Committee members shall enjoy immunity in the course of their work. Under the provisions of this law, political parties shall have the right to demand the replacement of their representatives on electoral committees, but not to order their withdrawal from the committees.
The secretaries of the district electoral committees shall be jurists.
In every constituency (commune, town, district) a constituency committee shall be formed, comprising a chairman, a vice-chairman, a secretary and one representative of each "electoral subject" or group presenting candidates for election in the constituency concerned, plus one member who is not a member of the party if the number of committee members is even. The secretary and the person who is not a party member shall be appointed by the prefect. The chairman and the vice-chairman of the district electoral committee shall be appointed by the Central Electoral Committee. The chairman shall represent the Government. The vice-chairman shall be appointed by the party which, among the parties not participating in the Government coalition, is best represented in the relevant local government organ. If that party presents no candidate for the post of vice-chairman, the post shall be filled by the next best represented opposition party.
Nominations for members of district electoral committees shall be sent to the Central Electoral Committee not later than 30 days before the elections. The Central Electoral Committee shall approve the composition of district electoral committees not later than 28 days before the election date.
The chairmen and vice-chairmen of commune and town electoral committees shall be appointed by the chairmen of the electoral committees of the respective districts, in keeping with the provisions of the second paragraph of this article. Nominations for members of these committees shall be made not later than 25 days before the election day. Their composition shall be approved and published by the district electoral committees not later than 23 days before the election date.
Constituency electoral committees shall carry out the following tasks:
a. they shall supervise the strict and fair application of this law throughout the constituency during the elections;
b. they shall supervise the activities of the polling station committees during the elections; district electoral committees shall also supervise the activities of the commune and town election committees in their territory;
c. they shall supervise the setting up of polling stations in keeping with the law;
ç. they shall register and announce the candidates and multinominal lists of "electoral subjects" as well as independent candidates for the relevant local government organs;
d. in the event of errors or lacunae in electoral rolls, they shall ask the organs which published the rolls to rectify them;
dh. in keeping with the rules laid down by the Central Electoral Committee, commune or town electoral committees shall issue authorizations to observers appointed by "electoral subjects" to monitor proceedings of polling stations, while district electoral committees shall issue authorizations to the observers appointed by the "electoral subjects" to monitor the commune and town committees;
e. they shall count the votes, on the basis of minutes submitted by the polling stations, and shall declare the close of voting in the district. On the basis of these results, the commune or town electoral committee shall issue an attestation of election to the new mayor and, councillors of the town or commune. The district electoral committee shall issue an attestation of election to the new district councillors;
ë. they shall examine complaints concerning unlawful or improper action on the part of the polling station committees; the district election committee shall also examine complaints about the actions and decisions of commune or town committees;
f. if necessary, they shall organise the second round of elections;
g. the commune or town electoral committee shall submit the electoral documents stipulated in this law to the Central Election Committee and the district electoral committee; the district electoral committee shall hand in its electoral documents to the Central Electoral Committee;
gj. the commune and town electoral committees shall issue right-to-vote certificates in the cases provided for in this law.
A polling station committee composed of a chairman, a vice-chairman, a secretary and one representative of each subject or group presenting candidates in the communes and towns, plus one person who is not a party member if the number of members is even, shall be set up at each polling station. Under the rule laid down for the commune and town committees, the secretary and the non-party person shall be appointed by the prefect, while the chairman and vice-chairman shall be appointed by the chairman of the commune or town committee.
Nominations for membership of the polling station committees shall be sent to the commune or town electoral committee not later than 15 days before the elections. The chairman of the commune or town election committee shall announce the membership of the polling station committee at least 10 days before the election day.
The polling station committee shall fulfil the following functions:
a. it shall ensure that voting in the polling station proceeds freely and peacefully in keeping with the provisions of this law;
b. it shall make sure that voting procedures are strictly observed;
c. it shall register voters who arrive to vote in possession of a right-to-vote certificate or a court decision;
d. it shall count the votes obtained by each candidate and list of candidates;
dh. it shall draw up and submit the minutes referred to in this law to the electoral committee of its commune or town;
e. it shall keep records of any complaints or requests by members of the election committee, examine them and take the appropriate decisions.
Instructions given by the chairman of a polling station committee shall be binding on all citizens at that polling station during the election. Such instructions may be cancelled only through a decision by the polling station committee.
The Central Electoral Committee shall be composed of a chairman, a vice-chairman, a secretary and 14 members.
The composition of the Central Committee shall be decided by the President of the Republic on the basis of proposals by the political parties.
Political parties with no representatives on the Central Electoral Committee shall be entitled to send observers to the Committee from the date of the opening of the election campaign to that of the closure of the elections.
The Central Electoral Committee shall fulfil the following functions:
a. it shall ensure that the present law is enforced rigorously and fairly during elections throughout the territory of the Republic of Albania;
b. it shall provide methodological guidance and shall supervise the activities of the electoral committees of the districts, towns and communes;
c. it shall examine complaints about illegal and irregular acts and actions on the part of electoral committees;
ç. it shall supervise the drawing up of lists of candidates for election to local councils and, candidates to the office of mayor of a commune or town;
e. it shall establish rules regarding participation in elections by Albanian and foreign observers, and provide such observers with identity documents;
dh. where applicable, it shall check electoral rolls after the elections have closed, and if it finds that a citizen has voted more than once, it shall submit the case to the competent organ;
e. it shall publish the election results nationally.
Members of electoral committees may be dismissed from office by the organ which approved the composition of the committee, either at their own request or on the proposal of the "electoral subjects" they represent.
Members of local government executive organs, members of the armed forces and candidates for the office of member of a local government organ may not be members of electoral committees.
Meetings of electoral committees shall be valid only if attended by a majority of their members. The decisions of such committees shall be taken on the basis of a majority vote by the members present.
Meetings of electoral committees shall be public. Observers authorised by electoral committees within the relevant area may also attend these meetings, where they shall have the right to make observations. Their observations shall be noted, at their request, in the minutes of the committee meeting.
Political parties shall be entitled to submit a list of names of substitutes for their representatives on electoral committees of the communes, towns and districts and on polling station committees. If those representatives are unable to carry out their duties, the organ which approved the composition of the committee shall arrange for their replacement.
Persons participating in the electoral committees of communes, towns or districts shall leave their employment in return for payment from the day of their appointment, whereas members of polling station committees shall be entitled to leave their employment in return for payment as from 3 days before the elections until 2 days after the elections.
Payments to such persons shall be made from the state budget, according to whatever is specified by the Central Electoral Committee.
The amount of payment due to members of the Central Electoral Committee shall be specified by the President of the Republic.
According to the meaning of the Penal Code, all those taking part in electoral committees shall be called "persons exercising public duties" during the exercise of their duties.
Persons who committed any of the criminal offences set forth in the provisions of the Penal Code (in the chapter on crimes against state authority) against members of electoral committees during the exercise of their duties shall receive a prison sentence, in compliance with those provisions.
Members of electoral committees shall be responsible before the law for enforcing the provisions of the present law.
Members of electoral committees and observers shall be prohibited from bearing distinctive signs or symbols of the party or group to which they belong, and from carrying out or participating in election propaganda activities.
Complaints against decisions by electoral committees
Complaints may be submitted to the Central Electoral Committee against decisions by the electoral committees of the communes, towns and districts, within 3 days of their announcement.
The Central Electoral Committee shall examine such complaints and take the relevant decision within 3 days.
Complaints may be submitted to the Constitutional Court against decisions by the Central Electoral Committee within 3 days of their announcement.
The Constitutional Court shall examine such complaints and take a final decision within 3 days.
The election campaign
The election campaign concerning local government organs shall open with the announcement of the date of the elections and shall close 24 hours before the date of the elections.
All "electoral subjects" and citizens shall enjoy the right to issue propaganda freely through rallies and meetings, on radio and television, in the press and via other mass media.
Any form of propaganda which is against the law or the legal system or which violates the personal dignity of the candidates shall be prohibited.
The publication of opinion polls concerning the elections shall be halted 8 days before election day.
The election campaign on public television shall be conducted within special programmes. An overall broadcasting time of 4 hours, of which half shall be allocated to the government coalition parties and half to the opposition parties, shall be made available to parties having obtained more than 0.50% of the vote in the previous district council elections. The time shall be shared between them in proportion to the percentage of the votes obtained in those elections, but each "subject" shall be entitled to at least 15 minutes. A period of 10 minutes shall be made available to all other political parties participating in the elections.
The platform and programme of the election broadcasts made available to the political parties for the election campaign shall be approved by the Central Electoral Committee. Supplementary time made available by public television for election debates or party election campaigns shall be distributed according to the proportions specified in the preceding paragraph.
The Central Electoral Committee shall set up a sub-committee, made up of its own members and representatives of the majority and the opposition, to supervise the rigorous enforcement of the distribution of broadcasting time; the sub-committee shall provide the Central Electoral Committee with daily information about the enforcement of the rules outlined above. If those rules are not observed, the Central Electoral Committee shall take all necessary steps to enforce them.
The Central Electoral Committee shall organise unbiased programmes on Albanian radio and television to educate the population about the elections.
Candidates and "electoral subjects" shall enjoy the right to use a variety of propaganda materials such as notices, posters and sheets, on which the name of the "electoral subject" who has prepared them must be indicated. It shall be prohibited to damage such materials before the closure of the campaign.
Local government organs shall ensure that every "electoral subject" has equal opportunities with regard to propaganda.
Election campaigning in military units and sections and in depoliticised institutions shall be prohibited. The commanding officers of military units and sections shall allow the use of the mass media during rest periods (recreation), as well as participation in the election campaign within the constituency but outside the military units or sections.
Election campaigning by persons without Albanian citizenship shall be prohibited.
Defamation and abuse of candidates and "electoral subjects" shall be prohibited.
Disruption and disturbance of legal election meetings and rallies shall be prohibited.
Local government organs and other public organs may not distribute election propaganda materials or participate in propaganda activities.
The Council of Ministers shall set aside funds from the budget for the political parties' election campaigns.
The sum allocated from the budget to political parties participating in the local authority elections shall be distributed among those parties in proportion to the percentage of votes obtained in the district council elections. This rule shall not apply to political parties which do not succeed in obtaining 2% of the national vote for the district councils.
The Council of Ministers shall advance a sum of money to parties which obtained more than 1% of the vote for district councils in the previous local authority elections. After the election results, parties having received significant sums but not meeting the conditions of the preceding paragraph shall be obliged to return the sums advanced or the surplus of such sums.
Candidates for election to a local council and candidates for the office of mayor of a commune or town shall have their jobs kept open during the election campaign if they leave them, and shall receive their full salary.
The number of councillors for communes, towns and districts shall be as follows:
- for communes or towns with populations of fewer than 10 000 inhabitants: 11-13 councillors;
- for communes or towns with populations of 10 000-20 000 inhabitants: 13-15 councillors;
- for communes or towns with populations of 20 000-50 000 inhabitants: 15-17 councillors;
- for communes or towns with populations greater than 50 000 inhabitants: 17-21 councillors;
- for districts with populations of up to 150 000 inhabitants: 23-27 councillors;
- for districts with populations greater than 150 000 inhabitants: 31-35 councillors;
- for the Tirana municipal council: 45 councillors.
The number of councillors in each commune, town and district shall be established in accordance with the aforementioned criteria by the Office of the State Secretary for Local Government.
Applications for registration by candidates for election to local councils and by candidates to the office of mayor of a commune or town shall be made to the relevant electoral committee at least 20 days before polling day.
Candidates for the office of mayor of a commune or town shall be registered on the basis of the following documents:
a. a written application from the relevant "electoral subjects" for registration of the candidate, which must contain the candidate's first name, patronym, surname, date of birth and place of residence (2 copies);
b. a declaration by the candidate that he accepts his nomination (2 copies);
c. a declaration by the candidate on his family's assets;
ç. for mayors, a copy of the State Committee's decision on the verification of the official figures of civil servants.
Candidates for election to the local council of a commune, town or district shall be registered on the basis of the following documents:
a. a list of the candidates nominated by the "electoral subjects", signed by its leader; this list shall also contain the other data set out in item 'a' of Article 53 of the present law;
b. a declaration by the candidate that he accepts his nomination;
c. a declaration by the candidate on his family's assets.
Where "electoral subjects" have joint lists, those lists must be signed jointly by their leaders.
Independent candidates for the office of mayor of a commune or town or for election to the council of a commune, town or district shall be registered on the basis of the following documents:
a. an application by the candidate (2 copies), including the data set out in item 'a' of Article 53;
b. a declaration by the candidate on his family's assets;
c. a list with the signatures of the voters who support the nomination of the independent candidate. The list must contain 150 voters, giving their first names, patronyms, surnames and the series and number of their identity cards, and must be signed by each voter. These voters must live in the constituency for which the candidate is standing, and the list must be checked by the relevant electoral committee.
Each voter may sign only one list. The lists shall be deposited with the relevant electoral committee and may be checked with that committee's due authorization.
Item 'ç' of Article 53 shall also apply to the registration of independent candidates for the office of mayor.
If the electoral committee of a commune, town or district discovers irregularities in the candidates' registration documents, it shall notify the "electoral subjects" or the independent candidates concerned, who may make rectifications within two days of the notification. If no such rectification is made, the electoral committee of the commune, town or district shall take the necessary decision.
A candidate may stand in only one constituency.
"Electoral subjects" may submit only one list of candidates for election to the councils of communes, towns and districts, and may nominate only one candidate to the office of mayor of a commune or town.
If the conditions of the present law are fulfilled, electoral committees of communes, towns and districts shall be required to register the candidates nominated by the lists for election to a local council or to the office of mayor of a commune or town, and to announce the candidates not later than 17 days before election day, indicating the "subject" nominating them or the identity of the independent candidate. They shall send a copy of the attestation document to all independent candidates.
The electoral committees of communes, towns and districts shall send the Central Electoral Committee a copy of the announcement of nominations within 2 days of the announcement.
For all candidates standing, electoral committees of communes, towns or districts shall draw up a minute of registration in accordance with the stipulated procedure.
"Electoral subjects" may replace the candidates they have nominated and modify their multinominal lists up to 17 days before polling day. Thereafter no modifications may be made. In cases where one of the candidates for the office of mayor of a commune or town dies after this deadline, the elections to the office of mayor of commune or town in the constituency concerned shall take place not later than 9 weeks after polling day. The date of these elections shall be set by the President of the Republic.
The format of ballot papers used for voting shall be determined by the Council of Ministers. Ballot papers shall all be identical in shape, size, colour and type of paper. Electoral committees in the constituencies shall be provided with 15% more ballot papers than the number of voters registered on the electoral rolls when published.
Two ballot papers shall be used for elections to the representative organs of communes or towns: one for the mayor of the town or commune, the other for the council of the town or commune. The ballot paper for the mayor of the town or commune shall contain the following information: the emblem of the "subject", the forename, patronym and surname of each candidate and the name of the group or party to which the candidate belongs; in the case of independent candidates, the ballot paper shall bear the words "independent candidate".
Ballot papers for the commune or town council shall state the emblem and names of the "electoral subjects" that have presented lists of candidates, followed by the names of independent candidates for the office of commune or town councillor, in alphabetical order, with the words "independent candidate".
On all ballot papers the "electoral subjects" shall be listed in alphabetical order.
On the left-hand side of the ballot paper, at the beginning of each line containing the above-mentioned details, there shall be a space for the voter to place a mark alongside the name of the candidate or "electoral subject" for which he or she wishes to vote. In this space, the voter may mark a mathematical plus (+), multiplication (x) sign, minus (-) sign.
This article is repealed.
Voting in elections to local government organs shall take place at the places appointed by the executive organs of the local authorities. No propaganda material shall be permitted at these places.
No premises of political parties or depoliticised public institutions may be used as polling stations except schools.
Voting in elections to local authority organs shall take place on a day that is a public holiday throughout the country.
Polling shall commence at 8 am and end at 9 pm. If at 9 pm there are still people awaiting their turn to vote, the polling shall continue until all those present have been able to vote.
On election day the polling station committee shall start its work at 7 am by inspecting the ballot box. Following this, the ballot box shall be sealed and stamped with the polling station seal, which shall then be kept under guard.
The chairman of the polling station committee, in the presence of the committee, shall stamp all the ballot papers, the number of which shall be recorded in the report signed by all the members of the committee present.
After they have been stamped, the chairman, vice-chairman and secretary of the committee shall sign the ballot papers in the presence of the other members of the committee.
Having completed the above tasks in that order, the chairman of the polling station committee shall open the polling.
Voters shall vote in the order in which they arrive.
The polling station committee shall check the identity of each voter. To do so, it may ask to see their identity cards, passports, military papers or certificates bearing a photograph.
Members of the armed forces may not go to the polling station as an armed group in formation. Only those members of the armed forces who are on duty shall be allowed to vote in uniform.
After checking the data on the voter's identity document against the electoral roll, the committee shall write down the number of the identity document, then the voter shall sign the register, take a ballot paper and cast his or her vote. When the voter has voted, the last page of his or her identity document shall be stamped.
If a ballot paper is found to be faulty, it shall be put aside, stamped as faulty and replaced with another by the chairman.
In each polling station there shall be one or more booths to speed up the voting. No ballot papers shall be kept in the polling booths.
The polling station committee's table shall be placed in such a way as to enable committee members and observers representing the "electoral subjects" to move around it. The ballot boxes shall be placed where everybody can see them.
The presence of any person other than the voter in the polling booth, including members of the polling station committee, shall be forbidden, except when the voter cannot cast his or her vote without help and requests the assistance of a person of his or her own choice. The person chosen shall have the right to accompany only one voter. When this occurs, permission shall be granted by the chairman of the polling station committee, and the fact shall be recorded on the electoral roll.
No writing on ballot papers shall be permitted outside the polling booths. Failure to comply shall lead to the ballot paper being considered spoilt and destroyed by the committee without being put in the urn, giving the voter another chance to vote. A record shall be kept of all ballot papers which are destroyed.
While there is somebody in a polling booth, nobody else shall be allowed within three metres of that booth.
If necessary for the preservation of peace in the polling station and the guaranteeing of the free and smooth running of the ballot, the chairmanship of the polling station committee shall be empowered, by unanimous decision, to enlist the help of the police, who shall limit their action solely to what is requested of them. In the event of failure by the chairmanship to reach a unanimous decision and if the committee considers it necessary to enlist the help of the police, the decision shall be taken by a simple majority of the members of the committee present.
No armed person shall be allowed to enter the polling station.
"Electoral subjects" shall have the right to send observers to each polling station. These observers shall carry authorizations issued by the commune, town or district electoral committee.
During the checking and counting of ballot papers under Article 66 of this law, if the polling station committee notices any ballot papers among those deposited that differ from the official ballot papers in shape, size, colour, type of paper or content, it shall withdraw them, writing the words "spoilt paper" on each one.
The same shall apply to those ballot papers which are torn or damaged, or wrongly filled in.
These spoilt ballot papers shall remain under the guard of the committee, and their number shall be noted down in the final report.
Any ballot papers remaining in the ballot box after the close of voting that are not of the requisite shape, size, colour, type of paper or content and have not been stamped and signed as stipulated in Article 66 above shall be considered null and void. Their number shall be entered in the final report and the ballot papers concerned shall be kept separate.
Proper ballot papers found in the ballot box shall be considered valid and counted as votes for the candidates and groups participating in the election of local government organs if the voters have entered only one mark alongside one candidate or "electoral subject" listed on the ballot paper.
In all other cases the proper ballot papers shall be considered null and void, even if voters enter any mark in addition to the mark alongside the chosen candidate.
All ballot papers which have been wrongly filled in, torn, damaged or used shall be kept for final verification.
If voting is disrupted by an infringement, the polling station committee shall be empowered to suspend voting until the infringement has been eradicated.
Counting of votes and recording of results
At the end of the voting, the chairman of the polling station, in the presence of the committee and the authorised observers, shall:
a. declare the voting closed;
b. proceed to calculate the number of electors who have participated in the ballot according to their lists, which must be signed by the chairman and the secretary of the committee and by those representatives of the "electoral subjects" who so wish;
the lists shall then be placed in an envelope, which shall be sealed with the polling station seal. The chairman and the secretary of the polling station and those representatives of "electoral subjects" who so desire shall sign the envelope. The envelope shall then be delivered to the electoral committee of the commune or town, in exchange for an official receipt;
c. set aside and count all unused ballot papers, and proceed in accordance with the instructions set forth in the second part of paragraph b. above.
These tasks shall be performed in the above order and entered in the final report.
When the above duties have been completed:
a. the ballot box shall be opened and one of the members of the committee shall be selected, by the drawing of lots, to take out and open the ballot papers one at a time and hand them to the chairman, who shall then announce out loud whether the ballot paper is valid and the candidate or subject for whom the vote is cast. He shall let all members of the committee and the observers present see the ballot paper. Not until the result has been recorded in writing and the ballot paper placed in an appointed place shall another ballot paper be removed from the ballot box;
b. the ballot papers in the ballot box shall be counted, with separate counts kept for ballot papers considered null and void or false, those considered genuine but not valid and finally those which are genuine and valid in favour of each candidate or subject;
c. the tellers shall then check that the votes thus counted correspond to the number of votes cast according to the report, and if necessary count the votes over again.
These tasks shall be performed in the above order and entered in the final report.
The polling station committee shall then finalise the counting of the votes. Those ballot papers about which there is any doubt shall be examined, then counted. Any disagreement among the committee members shall be noted in the report, and the ballot papers concerned shall be kept separately.
When the voting has closed, the votes been counted and the final results calculated, the chairmanship of the polling station committee shall prepare three written reports: one for the councillors of the commune or town, one for the mayor of the commune or town and one for the district councillors.
The written reports shall state:
1. the name of the constituency and the number of the polling station;
2. the time of day at which voting started and closed;
3. the number of voters on the electoral roll;
4. the number of voters on the supplementary roll;
5. the number of voters according to the annotations on the electoral rolls;
6. the number of ballot papers delivered;
7. the number of ballot papers damaged and removed before and during the voting;
8. the number of unused ballot papers;
9. the number of ballot papers found in the ballot box;
10. the number of improper ballot papers;
11. the number of proper ballot papers;
12. the number of proper but non-valid ballot papers;
13. the number of proper and valid ballot papers for each candidate or "subject";
14. the number of copies of the report;
15. the various comments of individual members and observers, stating reasons, and the corresponding decisions that were reached.
The information under numbers 3 to 14 above shall be recorded in figures and written out in full.
The report shall be signed by the chairman, the vice-chairman and the secretary of the polling station committee and shall bear the corresponding stamp.
Each member of the polling station committee shall sign the reports. They may add any notes they wish to the report, in which case they shall add the words "see notes" next to their signatures. In the event of a member of the committee refusing to sign the report, this shall not affect its validity. The same shall apply to the constituency electoral committee.
Each member of the committee who signs the report shall be entitled to receive a copy.
Immediately after the votes have been counted, the polling station committee shall announce the results by placing them in a visible place outside the polling station.
The polling station committee shall send the commune or town electoral committee 2 copies of the report with the results of ballots to elect commune or town councils and 2 copies of the report on the election of the mayor of the commune or town, together with the ballot papers, seals and electoral rolls.
The polling station committee shall send to the corresponding commune or town electoral committee 2 copies of the report on the ballot to elect the district council, with the corresponding ballot papers. The commune or town electoral committee shall forward these documents to the district electoral committee.
The commune and town electoral committees shall announce the results of the ballot on the basis of the information contained in the polling station reports, in the form of an official report on the final results of the ballot to elect the mayor of the commune or town, and an official report on the final results of elections for the commune or town council, setting forth the following information:
1. the name of the constituency and the number of polling stations;
2. the number of voters on the electoral rolls;
3. the number of voters on the supplementary rolls;
4. the number of voters according to the annotations made on the rolls;
5. the number of ballot papers delivered to the polling station committees;
6. the number of ballot papers damaged and removed before and during the voting;
7. the number off unused ballot papers;
8. the number of ballot papers found in the ballot box;
9. the number of improper ballot papers;
10. the number of proper ballot papers;
11. the number of proper but non-valid ballot papers;
12. the number of proper and valid ballot papers for each candidate or subject;
13. the number of copies of the report;
14. the various comments of individual members and observers, stating reasons, and the corresponding decisions that were reached;
15. the forename, patronym and surname of the winning candidate for election to the office of mayor of the commune or town; the date of the second round of the elections; the patronyms and names of the two leading candidates; in the case of elections to the commune or town council, the names of the candidates on the lists presented by the different "electoral subjects" who qualify, according to their scores, for posts on the council, and of independent candidates who qualify for posts on the commune or town council.
The information contained in items 2 to 12 above shall be recorded in figures and written out in full.
Immediately after the votes have been counted, the commune or town electoral committee shall announce the results by placing them in a visible place outside the committee's premises.
The district electoral committee shall record the results of the elections for the district council based on the data provided in the reports of the polling stations, and announce them in a report stating:
1. the name of the constituency and the number of polling stations;
2. the number of voters on the electoral rolls;
3. the number of voters on the supplementary rolls;
4. the number of voters according to the annotations on the rolls;
5. the number of ballot papers delivered to the polling station committees;
6. the number of ballot papers damaged and removed before and during the voting;
7. the number of unused ballot papers;
8. the number of ballot papers found in the ballot box;
9. the number of improper ballot papers;
10. the number of proper ballot papers;
11. the number of proper but non-valid ballot papers;
12. the number of proper and valid ballot papers for each subject or independent candidate standing for election to the district council;
13. the number of copies of the report;
14. the remarks made by individual members and observers, stating reasons, and the corresponding decisions that were reached;
15. the names of the candidates on the lists presented by the different "electoral subjects" who qualify, according to their scores, for posts on the district council, and the names of the independent candidates who qualify for posts on the council.
The information contained in items 2 to 13 above shall be recorded in figures and written out in full.
As soon as the final result is known, the district electoral committee shall announce the results by placing them in a visible place outside its own premises.
The number of posts won by each "electoral subject" shall be determined in proportion with the number of valid votes obtained by each subject. They shall be attributed as follows:
a. the sum total of valid votes for all "electoral subjects" and independent candidates shall be established. The number of valid votes for each independent candidate shall be divided by this total, and the resulting fraction shall be multiplied by the number of posts to be filled on the council concerned. If the result is equal to or higher than 1, the independent candidate concerned shall qualify for a seat on the council;
b. then the number of valid votes for each "electoral subject" and each independent candidate who failed to qualify for a seat on the council under "a." above shall be divided by the total number of valid votes cast. The resulting fractions shall be multiplied with the final results that come from the difference between the number of seats on the council and those already filled by independent candidates under "a." above;
c. each list of a subject shall qualify for the number of seats in the council corresponding to the result of the calculation made under "b" above. The residual seats shall be shared amongst the "electoral subjects" and independent candidates according to the highest decimal points scored. If two or more have the same number of decimal points, the winner of the seat on the council shall be decided by drawing lots.
ç. the seats won by the lists presented by the "electoral subjects" shall be allotted to the candidates in the order in which they appear on the lists.
For the office of mayor of a commune or town, the winning candidate shall be the candidate obtaining an absolute majority of the valid votes in the first round of the elections.
Where none of the candidates obtains such a majority, a second round of elections between the first- and second-placed candidates will take place within one week. Where two or more candidates have obtained an equal number of votes, two of them shall be selected by lot.
If an "electoral subject" withdraws its candidate from the second round of elections, he shall be replaced by the first-round candidate with the next highest percentage of the vote.
The relevant electoral committee shall announce the candidates for the second round.
The candidate having obtained the greater number of votes at the second round shall be declared elected. If the votes are shared equally between the candidates, the winner shall be drawn by lot.
The constituency electoral committees shall send the Central Electoral Committee a copy of the report on the election results for each commune, town and district (the electoral committees of communes or towns within 2 days of closure of the ballot, and the district electoral committees within 3 days of closure of the ballot). These reports shall be delivered by the chairman, vice-chairman and secretary of the constituency electoral committee, accompanied by "electoral subject" representatives who so desire. The ballot papers, seals, ballot boxes and voter lists shall be sent to the relevant prefecture. The ballot papers shall be kept at the prefecture for at least one year.
The Central Electoral Committee shall make a national announcement of the final results within 5 days of the documents being delivered by electoral committees; the final results shall be published in a special bulletin.
Expiry of the terms of office of councillors and mayors of
communes or towns
The terms of office of councillors and mayors of communes or towns shall expire before the deadline in the circumstances prescribed by law.
In cases where a councillor's terms of office expire before the deadline, the terms of offices committee of the local council shall declare elected the next candidate in the list submitted by the relevant "electoral subjects". If the "electoral subjects's" list contains no more candidates who may be elected according to this procedure, the office of councillor shall go to the "electoral subject" having obtained the highest number of votes during the elections for the council in question. Where votes are equal, the selection shall be made by lot.
If the terms of office of an independent councillor expires before the deadlinem his office of councillor shall go to the candidate on the list of candidatures of the "electoral subject" having obtained the highest number of votes during the elections for the council in question. Where votes are equalm the selection shall be made by both.
If the term of office of the mayor of a commune or town comes to an end before the set deadline, bye-elections shall be held in the respective commune or town, in accordance with the relevant legal provisions.
Penal and administrative provisions
Any person who in his own interests or in those of a third party offers money, positions of employment or any other form of advantage in order to obtain a signature for a candidate's nomination, an affirmative or negative vote or non-participation in the election, shall be sentenced to actual imprisonment for a period of between 6 months and 3 years.
Similar sentences shall apply to voters who obtain money, positions of employment or any other form of advantage in return for the aforementioned actions.
The same sentences shall apply to any person who threatens or coerces voters into the aforementioned actions.
Any person who in his own interests or those of a third party distributes money, consumer goods or other gifts in any form during the election campaign or on polling day, shall be sentenced to actual imprisonment for between 1 and 3 years.
Any violation of the rules set forth in the present law shall be subject to a fine of between 10 000 and 50 000 leks, except where the violation committed constitutes a criminal offence.
Failure to fulfill his or her duty on polling day by a member of an electoral committee at any level, shall be subject to actual imprisonment for between 1 and 3 years.
Fines shall be increased to between 50 000 and 100 000 leks for violations of the provisions concerning the standard protection and administration of the ballot papers, voter lists, ballot-boxes and voting records, except where the violation in question constitutes a criminal offence.
Decisions on fine sentences shall be taken by electoral committees of the communes, towns and districts, or by the Central Electoral Committee.
Final decisions on fine sentences shall be immediately enforceable.
Final and transitional provisions
The Central Electoral Committee shall promulgate special instructions for the enforcement of the present law.
For the purposes of the present law, the following shall be considered "foreign observers":
- the parliamentary representatives of the member states of the OSCE, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and other organisations responsible for human rights issues;
- the representatives of foreign political parties and movements, and individuals invited by parties or party groups;
- specialists in the field of elections, authorised by Albanian or foreign organs.
Foreign observers, journalists and media representatives shall be given special authorization by the Central Electoral Committee.
Observers with Central Electoral Committee authorization shall enjoy the right to free movement in the territory of the Republic of Albania and the right to follow and observe all activities taking place during the campaign and on polling day. They shall enjoy the right to ask questions, to be given information and to express their views impartially in public.
The Council of Ministers shall be responsible for providing the necessary material and financial means and for taking the organisational measures needed in order to enforce the present law.
Decree no. 4243 of 13 March 1967 "on elections to people's councils and people's councils", as well as any other provision incompatible with the present law, shall be repealed.
Law No. 7593 of 29 July 1992 "on a new version of Article 80 of law no. 7573 of 16 June 1992 "on elections to local government organs" and law no. 7798 of 23 February 1994 "on an appendix (supplement) to law no. 7573 of 16 June 1992 "on elections to local government organs", shall be repealed.
The provisions of law no. 8001 of 22 September 1995 "on the genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Albania during communist rule for political, ideological and religious reasons", as well as those of law no. 8043 of 30 November 1995 "on supervision of the profile of civil servants and other persons with regard to the protection of the democratic State", concerning elected representatives of local government organs, shall be repealed in respect of candidates for election to local councils and elected local councillors, and with regard to candidates for the office of mayor of a commune and those elected to that office.
The present law shall enter into force immediately.1 Report by the Political Affairs Committee, Rapporteur Lord Finsberg. Texts adopted by the Assembly on 26 June 1996 (21 Sitting).
2 This proposal, when adopted by the Parliament, was contested by some opposition representatives who complained to the Constitutional Court, which, on 15 October 1996, rejected the complaint and ruled in support of the constitutionality of Article 87 of the Electoral Law.
3 See the programme in Annex 3.
4 See the programme of the observation in Annex 3.
5 See the of the visit programme in Annex 3.
6 See the programme in Annex 3.
7 See the press release of 20 October 1996 in Annex 4.
8 See the press-release of 18 October 1996 in Annex 4.
9 See map in Annex 5
10 See the rest of statistical data in Annex 6.
11 The observers visited 75 polling stations, with a total of 44 813 registered voters. The voting procedure was good in 77%, satisfactory in 16, bad in 4% and unacceptable in 3% of cases.
12 Reuter, 4 November 1996