CEC turns down SMI request amid controversy over quorum

Albania’s Central Election Commission has ruled against a complaint filed by the Socialist Movement for Integration over irregularities in the northeastern region of Kukes,  arguing that insufficient evidence had been submitted. The Monday decision took place amid a debate that CEC lacked the required quorum of five votes to make a decision.

CEC's remaining four members.

CEC’s remaining four members.

The decision takes away an MP seat from SMI, the third largest party in the next parliament and top ally of new Socialist Party-led government.

Ilirjan Muho, SMI’s legal representative at the CEC, described the CEC decision as invalid because of lacking the necessary five votes required to examine complaints.

But the CEC members argued the commission was able to examine complaints since they are not responsible for the absence of the other members, which resigned before the election, citing political interference. Since last April, CEC, a seven-member body overseeing and certifying elections, has been in a deadlock functioning with only four majority-proposed members following a pre-electoral dispute.

The SMI says it lost its MP seat in the northern region of Kukes by only a few votes, and demanded the recount of 15 ballot boxes from the district of Tropoja, claiming manipulation based on video footage from the local zone commission where ballots were counted.

Arguing its decision to turn down the SMI request, CEC said there has not been sufficient evidence for a recount. CEC’s preliminary results gave Democrats a 3-1 lead in Kukes, the country’s smallest county.

The SMI, led by former Prime Minister Ilir Meta who governed in coalition with the Democrats in the past four years, has quadrupled its MPs to 16 in the June 23 general elections in a surprising result.

The Socialist Party is also expected to appeal a CEC ruling in the northwestern Lezha County, after it was stripped of an MP mandate because of irregularities with preliminary result tables. Under current preliminary results, the Socialist Party-led government has 83 mandates compared to 57 mandates by the outgoing majority, lacking just one mandate for the three-fifths of MPs, required for major reforms.

Three weeks after the June 23 elections, although the winner of elections is known and accepted, it remains unclear when the official results will be made public. CEC has not finished with the examinations of all complaints yet, while a new round of complaints and appeals is expected to be filed with the Electoral College, a judicial body with final authority on election decisions. As the debate over CEC’s ability to form a quorum continues, it will also likely fall on the Electoral College to certify the final election results, analysts say.

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Posted in Elections 2013, Featured
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