The 2005 Parliamentary elections in Albania confirmed a consistent trend towards improvement in the conduct of elections and the electoral framework, and Albania witnessed a peaceful and orderly handover of power in September 2005 between the Socialist Party (SP) and the Democratic Party (DP). Yet, the political dialogue between the ruling coalition and the opposition has since been strained by an increasingly polarised atmosphere, lack of trust, and displays of acrimony between the respective political party leadership.
This situation has impacted upon electoral reform efforts, and indeed preparations for the upcoming local elections. While there was apparent agreement among political forces to implement recommendations following the publication of the OSCE/ODIHR Final Report on the 2005 parliamentary elections, successive attempts to address election reform issues within the framework of a parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee for Electoral Reform (AHC) have produced few results. Of particular concern is the compilation of voter lists for the local elections which has been considerably delayed, and is currently interrupted due to a failure to adopt the necessary amendments to the legal framework.An agreement between political forces, fostered by the local diplomatic community, was reached on 30 August with the intention of reviving the stalled election reform efforts. However, this agreement has not been used to its full extent, and the continuous dysfunction of the AHC, and consequent delays in the preparation of the local elections, could jeopardize recognised achievements in Albania’s electoral process in recent years. It is of particular concern that Albanian politicians, on both sides of the political aisle, are perceived to be resurrecting past political practices, with the potential that partisan interests could supersede the national interest in the conduct of upcoming local elections in line with OSCE commitments.
If President Moisiu's public address yesterday expressed the ideal, the recently released report from the OSCE on the forthcoming local elections named the reality.