Albania’s Central Election Commission has decided that a recount of all ballots should take place in two of Albania’s 12 electoral districts, after a smaller recount of 10 ballot boxes showed there was discrepancy between the recorded result and the recount.
The decision would mean a recount of more than 200,000 ballots in the northwestern counties of Lezha and Shkodra, and could further delay the publication of final results, which are already overdue nearly a month after the election took place.
The decision also marks a sudden escalation of problems in the post-election administration in what had been otherwise a slow but smooth process.
The Shkodra decision followed an earlier one about Lezha, where a discrepancy was found in the small recount that took place Thursday went against the Socialist-led coalition, which won the elections in a landslide. In ten ballot boxes, the Democratic Party coalition went from 39 votes ahead to 306.
“My request aims to make the situation entirely transparent,” said Klement Zguri, the CEC member with the ties to the Democratic Party who proposed the recount, calling the discrepancy “dramatic.”
The Socialists’ legal representative at CEC, Genc Gjoncaj, was furious at the CEC decision of a total recount in Lezha County. He added CEC, which is dominated by Democratic Party nominees, is trying to delay and alter the official results in order to shrink the majority of the winning coalition.
“We have serious concerns that this procedure of delaying the process is being done to achieve a different result from what the voters have decided in this county,” he told reporters at CEC, citing the 2011 administrative election in Tirana, where the new mayor was elected after a recount, which the Socialists say was manipulated to alter the actual vote.
Gjoncaj said his party would appeal the decision at the Electoral College, a judicial body with final say on election matters. He also said CEC members should be aware that they could be held legally liable for the decision, which he called “crazy.”
The decision came as CEC had already decided in favor of a complaint by the Democratic Party, ruling that preliminary results were wrong in Lezha and a seat earlier awarded to the Socialists should be given to the Democrats instead. That ruling brought the total numbers in parliament to 83-57 in favor of the Socialist-led coalition. With seven representatives in parliament, Lezha County is the fourth smallest electoral district in Albania.
Changes from the preliminary results are significant because it would mean the next government would not have the 84 seats that make up the three-fifths qualified majority in parliament required for key reforms.
All these decisions will likely 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 give final certification of Albania’s June 23 general elections.
In a decision that plunged the CEC into deadlock, a CEC member nominated by the Socialist Movement for Integration, 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.