Thursday, May 12, 2011

Vote Tally in Tirana Creeps Toward Finish

Here's a recent tidbit from BIRN ( describing the close political race in Albania between the Democratic and Socialist Parties. Want to bet that the loser
will cry "Foul! Foul!"


12 May 2011 / 11:41

Vote Tally in Tirana Creeps Toward Finish

Ballot counting in the key battleground of Tirana continued on Thursday, four days after the polls closed, with the ruling majority candidate and opposition leader divided by a hair thin margin.

Dardan Malaj

With less than 50 ballot boxes to be counted out of 485, Democratic Party candidate Lulzim Basha held a 250 vote lead over Tirana mayor and Socialist opposition leader Edi Rama on Thursday morning, as Albanians remained gripped by the graphics and numbers on the contest updated constantly on TV screens across the country.

The counting process in Tirana has been characterised by constant breaks by poll commissioners, disputes over single ballot boxes that last for hours and the replacement of commissioners by parties, tactics which have delayed the final tally.

“The delays in the ballot counting process reflect the accumulation of tension in the political battle for the capital,” said Gentian Elezi, a political science professor at the European University of Tirana.

The ruling Democrats and the Socialists have exchanged jibes in the last two days over the delays in the counting process, accusing one another of trying to damage the electoral process.

The key race for the capital has become even more important as other poll results show that the Socialist opposition won most major urban areas in the country, apart from the cities of Shkodra and Lezha in the north.

According to Professor Elezi, both camps seem to believe that by being selective in the ballots that they count first, they might somehow influence the counting process in other areas of the capital that are tallied later, although considering the high scrutiny that the poll is receiving, this tactic might only derail the quality of the elections.

"The fact that the two candidates are separated by only a few votes increases perceptions that the result could be changed," Elezi said.

“These delays breach the electoral standards and make it more difficult to calmly finalize the electoral process,” he added.

This article was made possible through the support of the National Endowment for Democracy.


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