Yet this week the process fell apart once again. On Monday, the Socialist Party's National Assembly met and decided to boycott the elections. The Party claimed that, in the absence of reform of the electoral role, it would be impossible to hold free and fair elections, and called on the government to postpone the elections in order to accomplish the necessary reforms.
According to the International Herald Tribune, the Socialist Party also accused the government of distributing fake birth certificates - used for identification purposes - which would allow for multiple voting. Needless to say the government dismissed the accusation.
In one particularly controversial claim, Edi Rama asserted during his National Assembly presentation, that “the postponement of elections has never been our objective…It has been a proposal by international partners.”
Rama's claim was immediately disputed. Local daily Korrieri reported the response from the US Embassy: "The U.S. Government has not asked for the postponement of elections. We stick to our earlier statement of encouraging the parties to work together for free and fair elections."
The EU also disputed the claim. Korrieri reported a television interview with Enlargement Commissioner Ollie Rehn who said "boycotting the Parliament or elections is not a democratic way of running politics. Therefore, I would discourage boycott as long as international standards are observed."
'As long as' is, of course, the key phrase here. It is precisely the question of whether international standards are being observed with regard to the credibility of the electoral role that is at issue.
It is not at all clear how this matter can be resolved. The EU has made clear that it is not prepared to get involved in trying to resolve this problem. Following a regular meeting between EU and Albanian officials yesterday the European Commission's Delegation to Albania issued a press release which asserted that "all Albania’s political leaders bear a responsibility to its citizens for the conduct of the local elections. Political leaders should not expect the international community to arbitrate among them."
Yet given the bad blood between the parties and the conflict and controversy that has been a hallmark of recent politics it is hard to see how they can sort this out among themselves. If the elections go ahead and the opposition parties boycott them, it is inevitable that the credibility of the elections will be damaged.
It is also inevitable that the Albanian people as a whole will lose out. The absence of a credible opposition in municipalities will be bad for political accountability, and the failure to hold credible elections will have an impact on the assessment of Albania's readiness for membership of NATO and the EU.
Albania's confrontational politics militates against the possibility of compromise. But the best way out might be for one side or the other to demonstrate some self-interested magnanimity.
Prime Minister Berisha could agree to change the law to allow for the postponement of the elections, even though legally there is no requirement to do so. Such a gesture would undoubtedly lead to increasing pressure on the socialists also to be magnanimous.
Alternatively, Chairman Rama could be magnanimous and agree to go ahead with the elections, reluctantly and under protest. This would increase pressure on the Prime Minister and the government to address the issue of the electoral role and other outstanding matters.
There may well be a danger of abuses in the forthcoming elections. But these elections are going to be thoroughly scrutinised and observed, and any serious abuses will be uncovered. If the election is not declared free and fair, meeting international standards, the Socialist Party will have all the leverage it needs to demand reform.