TIRANA – Lulzim Basha, Chairman of the Democratic Party in Albania, has unveiled a comprehensive electoral reform package, signaling a potential shift towards a new constitution for the Balkan nation. This move comes as Albania seeks to modernize its political landscape and address longstanding issues, particularly the voting rights of its vast diaspora.
As reported by best-selling Albanian daily Gazeta Panorama, central to Basha’s proposals are the introduction of open lists, allowing voters to select individual deputies rather than party presidents, and a rigorous vetting process for politicians to cleanse the political arena of corruption and criminal affiliations. “The vetting of politicians guarantees that open lists do not turn into auctions for the laundering of criminal money. Open lists make sense if we end voting inequality,” Basha remarked.
According to English-language Albanian news website Tirana Times, head of Albania’s Central Election Commission (CEC) Ilirjan Celibashi recently emphasized the urgency of addressing the diaspora’s voting rights. Albania’s Constitutional Court, in a December 9, 2022 ruling, underscored the constitutional right of all Albanian citizens to vote, irrespective of their place of residence. Currently, diaspora members can only vote by physically returning to Albania on election day. Given that 40% of Albanians live abroad, this has been a contentious issue, with past efforts to enable overseas voting failing to materialize.
Celibashi stressed the parliament’s constitutional obligation to resolve the diaspora voting issue by the end of 2023. He also urged political parties to embark on electoral reform, emphasizing the need for a thorough overhaul of the electoral system to ensure clarity, transparency, and fairness.
Basha’s call for unity and reform is a significant step in Albania’s journey towards political and economic liberation, aligning it more closely with European Union standards.
Among the key proposals Basha presented are:
- Open Lists: Empowering voters to select their preferred deputy candidates.
- Political Vetting: A stringent process to weed out politicians with corrupt or criminal backgrounds.
- Vote Equality: Ensuring uniform voter representation across all constituencies.
- Diaspora Voting Rights: Granting Albanians abroad the right to vote from their current residences.
With the backdrop of these developments, Albania stands at a crossroads, with the potential for significant political transformation on the horizon.
Image source: EPP Malta Congress
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