Unfortunately, though perhaps unsurprisingly, the government and opposition have been unable to agree on a date. The Socialist opposition has been pushing for a date in the spring, claiming that bad weather in January might disrupt turn out in rural or mountainous areas of the country. This is true, but they can hardly blame the government for the weather.
In the absence of agreement, the President has stepped in and is proposing two possible dates in January - 14th and 21st. The Socialists have indicated that they will drop their objections and accept the President's decision - though it is hard to see what choice they have.
As well as seats in Albania's municipalities, the position of Mayor of Tirana is up for grabs. This will be the most closely watched contest in the country. The incumbent, Edi Rama, is addition to his role as mayor of the city, is also chairman of the Socialist Party, and his and Prime Minister Sali Berisha's dislike for one another is no secret.
If the Democrats can unseat Rama, it will mean a lot more than merely taking the Mayor's office in the city. Both government and opposition are aware of the implications of the mayoral race and are responding accordingly. All the opposition parties on the left have agreed to endorse Rama (below left) as their official candidate. On the right, all the parties in the governing coalition have also agreed to back a single candidate. This is to be the youthful and popular Minister of the Interior Sokol Olldashi (below right).
Olldashi is a strong candidate, but Rama has the benefit of incumbency and has certainly had a positive impact in the city.
Having missed the parliamentary elections last year I'm looking forward to following these elections. I'm also looking forward to the possibility of doing some election observing if possible. So if anyone out there - OSCE, EU - is looking for volunteers, I'm available.