Albania’s third largest party, the Socialist Movement for Integration, says it has filed a complaint with the Central Election Commission over election results in the northeastern county of Kukes, claiming that irregularities in ballot counting stripped it of an MP mandate.
Ilirjan Muho, SMI’s legal representative at the Central Election Commission, says the SMI demands a recount of ballots in several polling stations of the district of Tropoja over alleged manipulation in the ballot counting process.
The complaint will probably end up in the Electoral College, a judicial body comprising eight Appeals Court judges, which in several cases has assumed CEC’s responsibility because of the commission’s inability to approve decisions requiring a qualified majority of five votes. The Electoral College is also expected to certify Albania’s June 23 general elections.
In a decision that plunged the CEC into deadlock, Muho, who previously served as an SMI-nominated CEC member, was replaced in April with rival’s nominee, following SMI’s departure from the Democratic Party-led coalition. Three other opposition proposed members resigned in protest leaving CEC with only four members, unable to approve decisions requiring a qualified majority of five votes including the certification of elections.
“We will appeal the decision on Kukes because evidence shows there is a deformation of the result. We have demanded the recount of 15 polling stations based on video footage from the local zone commission,” Muho told reporters on Monday.
The SMI claims it lost its MP in the northern region of Kukes by only a few votes, and demands the recount of 15 ballot boxes from the district of Tropoja, claiming manipulation based on video footage from local zone commission where ballots were counted.
The county of Kukes, the smallest in the country, remained the only stronghold of the Democratic Party in the June 23 general elections which, they lost by a landslide to the Socialist Party-led coalition that includes the SMI. CEC’s preliminary results gave Democrats a 3-1 lead in Kukes.
With no official results yet, but counting already concluded, the Socialist Party-led left wing coalition has apparently won 84 mandates or three-fifths of the 140-seat Parliament. The opposition Socialist Party won 66 mandates in the June 23 elections while the Socialist Movement for Integration quadrupled its MPs to 16.
The Democratic Party-led right wing coalition won 56 mandates, of which seven belong to its smaller allies.
The SMI request is one of the few complaints in an otherwise smooth election process.