Albania’s main opposition Democratic Party (DP) failed to register to participate in the June 18 general election by the deadline of midnight on April 10, carrying through its threat to boycott the vote.
The upcoming election, together with the key judicial reforms currently in progress, could pave the way for Albania to launch its long-awaited EU accession negotiations. However, an opposition boycott will undermine the legitimacy of the vote and risks delaying Albania’s process towards EU accession.
DP leader Lulzim Basha said on April 10 that the opposition will not register for the election, which he said would be a charade. The refusal to register came after the government rejected opposition demands for a caretaker government and the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama.
“A fair and free election cannot be a product of a compromise reached for the sake of compromise,” Basha said in a party statement.
Rama has repeatedly said that election will be held with or without the opposition.
Government figures have also accused the DP of staging the parliament boycott and threatening to undermine the election in order to delay the adoption of the judicial reforms.
The DP has boycotted the parliament since February 18, and Basha announced he had launched a rival parliament from a tent pitched outside the government offices.
“The saga of electoral irregularities generated by drug-related and other crimes should end once and forever so that a similar tent won’t be pitched in future,” Basha said on April 10.
The DP leader added that the opposition demands for electronic voting and counting, and a cap on spending during the electoral campaign are necessary measures.
Rama and Basha have been in talks about setting up a meeting to solve the crisis for the last five days, but Basha says he will discuss the issue from his tent only if the prime minister accepts his demand for a caretaker government.
DP leader also announced that the opposition will boycott the local election in western Kavaja municipality on May 7 after the former mayor Elvis Roshi was sacked because of his criminal record. The opposition plans to hold a big national protest on the same day in Kavaja.
The head of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Denar Biba, said that the registration process can be extended by 19 days, according to the electoral code, which envisages that parties will be able to submit written requests for registration 60 days before the election date, Albanian Daily News reported.