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Action description


In accordance with its mission, the Coalition of Domestic Observers is observing the preparations and implementation of all aspects of the 25 June 2017 Albanian Assembly Elections.


For Election Day and the counting process, CDO is deploying approximately 1,600 observers that will assess:


-the voting process at 541 randomly selected polling stations across the country;

-the general environment around polling stations, through 180 mobile observers;

-the work of the Zonal Electoral Administration Commissions, through 180 observers;

-the counting process until its conclusion.


The 541 polling stations to be observed during the election day have been selected using a random, stratified, and representative sampling methodology. This sampling methodology enables CDO to generalize Election Day observation findings to provide a nationwide assessment of the process.


2017 Elections – Data



ANOUNCEMENT

INTERNATIONAL   CONFERENCE

2-3 February 2017, Hotel Tirana International, Tirana

 

Despite remarkable improvements, Albanian democracy still lacks proper involvement and participation of citizens in the decision making process and efficient mechanisms to hold elected representatives and state officials accountable. Citizens are enabled to express their will through electoral processes, once every few years, processes in which the possibility for effective selection of candidates or candidacies is being narrowed.

 

To have a discussion on these matters and initiate a public debate on the need to address the regulation of the right of Albanian citizens to participate fully in the decision-making process of the country, KRIIK Albania, in collaboration with the Coalition of Domestic Observers (CDO) are organizing the International Conference “We the People; Citizens’ Participation and Direct Democracy”. The Conference will be realized on 2-3 February 2017, at Hotel Tirana International. An opportunity to exchange opinions on ways to empower Albanian citizens, as an alignment of all actors, both political and civic.

 

The moment of the organization of this Conference is a good opportunity to address this major matter by the political parties already during the electoral campaign for the 18 June 2017 Parliamentary Elections and follow up by the decision-makers coming out of these elections, especially the governing majority, in the concretization of direct forms of direct democracy, as well as other legal mechanisms that aim to empower the citizens’ will.

 

The International Conference “We the People; Citizens’ Participation and Direct Democracy” is made possible through the financial support and special contribution of the Embassy of Switzerland in Albania, and the financial support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Albania and the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Albania.


For more...



Progress of the by-elections in the Municipality of Kolonja and the impingement of expectations for local governance !
16/11/2016

P U B L I C   S T A N C E *

 

Download the Full Document in .pdf 

 

The by-elections expected to be hold in the Municipality of Kolonjë are the eighth of their kind since the Electoral Reform of the year 2012 and the second after the Administrative-Territorial Reform of the year 2014.

Although these electoral processes have generally been conducted in a relatively calm manner and outside of the attention of the public, they are being more and more politically charged, outside of the norm and outside of the logic of elections for the local government.

 

 

a. The precedent of the by-elections in the Municipality of Dibër

The last electoral process for the Mayor of Dibër, held on 11 September 2016, was also the highest tension a by-elections has seen in Albania. Tension that came mainly from the circumstances of abuse of office in creating the vacancy, assessment of the voters of the municipality as undecided, as well as usage of this electoral process by the political context of the moment.

What was noticed during the electoral campaign for the Mayoral elections in Dibër was a negative discourse of the political leadership, many reciprocal accusations for manipulation, engagement on both sides of the highest political structures, abuse of the state administration and administrative resources both at the central and at the local level, as well as electoral offers based heavily in the support for or contradiction to the central government.

 

During the observation of the electoral process in Dibër, the Coalition of Domestic Observers criticized this approach of contestation for the local government, which is clearly deformed.

 

This bipartisan approach, after the progress to date of the process for the by-elections in the Municipality of Kolonjë, cannot be considered as casual anymore, but seems to be a signal of the lack of success of the last legal initiatives undertaken upon the local government and undo of the fragile tradition of the local governance.

 

 

b. The progress of the electoral campaign for the Mayor of Kolonjë

The Mayoral by-elections for the Mayor of Kolonjë will be held on 20 November 2016.

These elections, with a sharp difference in media coverage and inclusion in the public debate of the day, compared to those in Dibër, can again be highlighted as a deformed process for the local government.

 

The electoral campaign is, in surface, being conducted in a clam manner and without much public interest. This also as an a priori understanding of the political context, this municipality being considered as “traditionally of the left[i]” and of the almost absolute tradition of candidates of the majority being elected in all by-elections held to date.

 

Even more concerning is the fact that in the everyday life of Albanian democracy seems to have been installed the overall relativization of illegal behavior during electoral processes.   This tolerance to illegality is even higher under the argument, totally against the European aspiration of the country, of the so called minor importance of the electoral process in local government unit that is not very important.

 

  Media coverage of the campaign has also been very low. The candidate of the majority coalition has distributed audio-visual materials for the media, has been active in social media and has conducted some written interviews.  The candidate of the opposition has been less active in social media and has conducted few written interviews.

It must be noted that an element that has contributed to the apparent calm of the process has been the lack of local media in this local government unit[ii].

 

  Based on the observation, the campaign has been conducted in a low key, although both candidates have held many meetings.

The campaign is based in direct meetings of the candidates or their groups of supporters with the voters. This seems to be a phenomenon that is becoming spread in electoral campaigning in the country.

 

In this campaign is also noticed a high presence of high political and state officials, mainly in support of the candidate of the majority[iii]. The activity of this candidate is not limited only to the Municipality of Kolonjë, but also in Tirana[iv]. Regarding the candidate of the opposition, there are some indicia from online media of the involvement of the President of Albanian Football Federation in electoral activities in his support[v].

 

   There have been no official complaints until now from electoral subjects[vi] at none of the local institutions, such as: the Commission of Election Administration No. 73, Local Station Police, Prosecutor Office in Korça and the Korça Judicial District Court.

However, by the communication with representatives of the candidate of the opposition, are raised accusations about cases of intimidation, direction or threatening of the voters, mainly the civil servants. According to them, these concerns have been only addressed verbally to the relevant authorities.

Regarding these concerns, the CDO continues to insist on the indispensability of addressing the accusations in concrete terms to the relevant institutions, so that they do not continue to feed the political rhetoric and artificial politicization of the situation.

 

The political discourse used during the electoral campaign for the Mayor of Dibër was widely criticized.   The Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi was one of the officials that called upon the opposition to not allow the politicization of electoral processes for the local government[vii].

Meanwhile, in the campaign for the Mayor of Kolonjë is noticed the continuous presence of the Deputy Prime Minister as delegated by the Socialist Party to organize the campaign for these elections, as well as the presence of a high number of ministers. This presence has inevitably politicized the process.

Besides high presence of the highest officials and usage of activities or public investments in function of the campaign of the candidate of the majority[viii], this candidate has put a strong emphasis on the support of the government for his candidacy[ix].

 

In continuity of the political behavior toward local governance, even in these elections is noticed the fact that the selected candidates for the Mayoral office were not residents of the Municipality until the moment of their candidacy[x].

Besides the legal moment, this movement of the political figures toward local government units makes the division between citizens and local elected officials even bigger, raising questions on the effectiveness of the commitment for good governance, transparency and accountability.

 

 

c. Expectations of the Territorial-Administrative Reform and the Kolonja Municipality

The local government unit of the Municipality of Kolonjë was created with the Law “For the Territorial-Administrative division of the local government units in the Republic of Albania”[xi], adoption of which was boycotted by the opposition.

Nevertheless, this local government unit was one of the few functional zones that in all five versions on the table remained unchanged, thus there were no discussions about its creation[xii].

The Municipality of Kolonjë is composed of eight administrative units[xiii] and has 15,879 voters[xiv]. In the Local Elections of 2015 participated in elections 8,583 voters, or 54% of the persons with the right to vote.

 

   One of the major aims of the administrative-territorial division was “the consolidation of un-bureaucratized, politically impartial, professional and transparent local administration, ensuring the principles of gender equity and non-discrimination[xv].

In this direction, one of the short-term expectations for the creation of this new municipality was the drastic reduction of the number of employees of the municipal administration, and thus of the respective costs in the state budget[xvi].

 

   In reality, contrary to the expectation, after the reform there has been a slight increase of the number of employees[xvii]. Most of the inhabitants of the Municipality are public servants, working, besides the Municipality itself, at the water supply company or the operator of distribution of energy.

Private companies are scarce and have few capacities, both in financial resources and employment opportunities, mostly being small family business.

Meanwhile, there is a large number of individuals and families receiving economic assistance[xviii].

 

The financial dependency of the population of this local government unit from the State Budget makes this group more vulnerable and in risk of being affected by illegal forms of direction or influence of voting.

 

On the other hand, it is worth highlighting that transparency has been and is a continuous priority with regard to functioning of the institutions in the country, especially local government institutions. With regard to transparency in this Municipality, its official webpage does not have any of the decisions of the institution, which is a clear obligation of the Law “On local self-governance”, which provides that “every act of the self-governance bodies shall be published in the official webpage of the of the local government unit and be displayed in the places assigned by the unit for public notifications”[xix].   Even from reports on the transparency of the local government at the national level, this unit is at the average level of transparency[xx].

 

 

d. Politicization of the local electoral processes

Politicization of local electoral processes is establishing some dangerous and with consecutive effects precedents in Albanian democracy.

 

Attitude of the politics toward local governance as an extension of the central government or “reserve garrisons” of the opposition not only deforms local government, but also threatens the parliamentary electoral processes.

Interference and political use of administration and public resources in the political action is raising questions not only on the good progress of the democratic system, but of electoral race itself.

 

In conclusion, the Coalition of Domestic Observers raises the concern that, due to continuous unpunished precedents, electoral processes in the country are being more and more affected by anti-legal manifestations, such as abuse of public administration and public resources, as well as putting the local institutions in service of the political discourse.

 

This continuous approach and behavior seems to be transforming the democratic system in a cyclical relay race of political subjects, in which the citizens are and remain mere bystanders.

 

 


[i]The history of mandates in this local government unit, preceded by the municipalities of Ersekë and Leskovik:

2000 - 2003: Municipality of Ersekë, Mayor Adriatik Braçe (SP) / Municipality of Leskovik, Mayor (SP)

2003 - 2007: Municipality of Ersekë, Mayor Adriatik Braçe (SP) / Municipality of Leskovik, Mayor Fatmir Guda (DP)

2007 - 2011: Municipality of Ersekë, Mayor Adriatik Braçe (SP) / Municipality of Leskovik, Mayor Fatmir Guda (DP)

2011 - 2015: Municipality of Ersekë, Mayor Ali Laho (SP) / Municipality of Leskovik, Mayor Fatmir Guda (DP)

Territorial Reform 2014

2015 - 2016: Municipality of Kolonjë, Mayor Arben Malo (SMI)

[ii] In terms of media coverage, the Municipality of Kolonjë is covered by the correspondents of the national TV channels established in Korçë and by local televisions of Korçë, TV Glob and TV Korça.

[iii] Electoral activities of the candidates with presence of the high political or institutional officials:

- Date 19.10.2016, activity for the presentation of the candidate Ilia Stefo, Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi, Minister of European Integration Klaudia Gjoshaj.

- Date 29.10.2016, Photography exhibition with the presence of the candidate Ilia Stefo, with the participation of the Minister of Culture Mirela Kumbaro, Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi, Minister of Local Matters Bledar Çuçi

- Date 31.10.2016, electoral activity of the candidate Ilia Stefo with the participation of the Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi

- Date 06.11.2016 (published at the Facebook page), electoral activity with the participation of the Minister of Healthcare, Ilir Beqja and the Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi

- Date 09.11.2016, electoral activity of the candidate Ilia Stefo with the participation of the Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi, General Director of ALUIZNI, Artan Lame

- Date 12.11.2016, electoral activity of the candidate Ilia Stefo with the participation of the Minister of Urban Development, Eglantina Gjermeni

- Date 13.11.2016 (published at the Facebook page), electoral activity of the candidate Ilia Stefo with the participation of the Minister of Social Welfare and Youth, Blendi Klosi

- Date 14.11.2016, electoral activity of the candidate Dritan Hajro with the participation of the Secretary for Public Relations of the Democratic Party, Grida Duma

[iv] Tirana Youth Center, Date 09.11.2016, 17:00 with the participation of youngsters and students from the cities of Leskovik and Ersekë, studying or employed in Tirana.

[v] “Albanian Football Federation becomes a party”, Date 29.10.2016, www.skandal.al.

[vi] The only exception is a written complaint of the Head of the Democratic Party of the Municipality of Kolonjë (No. 85 Prot, Date 02.10.2016) about two polling stations (PS 4045 and 4045/1) established very close to the electoral office of the candidate from the majority.

[vii] Minutes of the Plenary Session of the Assembly of Albania, Date 15.09.2016, speaker, Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Niko Peleshi, page 54, “(...) We completely forgot about Muharrem Rama, as if the candidate has no value or power in these elections. The more time passes, the more local elections in Albania are becoming local. We cannot politicize local elections. If we want to read this correctly, this was the first and biggest mistake that the opposition did since the last local elections of 2015 and in these elections. The Albanian opposition refuses to understand why it was taken down, that is why is cannot rise again, and it cannot rise again if it does not first understand where it fell. If the opposition continues to give to local elections the highlight of a political referenda, of course it will still receive this response. I read this vote as an added gain of consciousness of the people of Dibër and Albanians, not as something being done by people who are not aware of what they are doing..”, www.parlament.al .

[viii] Activities published at the Facebook page of the candidate of the majority Mr. Ilia Stefo:

- “The Bridge, a cultural monument of Orgocka, has been returned to full functionality, with a capacity up to ten tons. That facilitates the movement for Orgocka, Qinam, Radovicka, Kurtes etc. we will continue cooperation with the Armed Forces even in rehabilitating other bridges in our municipality.” Comment: An investment of the Armed Forces, with the presence of the Minister of Defense, Mimi Kodheli. https://www.facebook.com/dr.iliastefo/photos/pcb.540693566120680/540691836120853/?type=3&theater .

- “At the photo exhibition of Dhimitër Vangjeli, a talented person from Kolonjë. Within six months we will open the museum of photography with its name. More support for culture.” Comment: photography exhibition with pictures from the photographer Dhimitër Vangjeli, in Ersekë, activity of the Ministry of Culture. https://www.facebook.com/dr.iliastefo/photos/pcb.533916966798340/533916396798397/?type=3&theater .

- “We will build the center for vocational training for youth, as an added opportunity for their employment. After yesterday’s conversation, full of enthusiasm and ideas, I am even more convinced that during the direction of the municipality I will have very strong allies to develop this area even more.” Comment: Activity with the youngsters of the high school Petro Nini Luarasi. By the showed images, it can be raised the suspicion that there are persons under 18 years of age at the activity and, according to representatives of the candidate of the opposition the activity has been conducted during school hours.  https://www.facebook.com/dr.iliastefo/photos/pcb.534340816755955/534338906756146/?type=3&theater .

[ix] Parts from statements or interviews with the candidate Ilia Stefo:

- “(...) At the moment, in Ersekë we have a good model of works, as the one of the center of the city of Ersekë, which will be extended also to the roads that bring you into the city. The project of entrance and center of Leskovik is now ready, along with the guarantee from the Albanian government for covering this project financially”, “Kolonjë, Ilia Stefo: The physicians are not allowed to lose any competition”, Date 29.10.2016, www.shqiptarja.com

- “The wellbeing of the inhabitants of our municipality depends also on the quality of the healthcare service. Under my guarantee and with the support of the Ministry of Healthcare we will complete the hospital with the needed medical appliances and will also fill the staff with specialist physicians.” Posted at the Facebook page of the candidate Ilia Stefo, Date 06.11.2016.

- “The Bridge, a cultural monument of Orgocka, has been returned to full functionality, with a capacity up to ten tons. That facilitates the movement for Orgocka, Qinam, Radovicka, Kurtes etc. we will continue cooperation with the Armed Forces even in rehabilitating other bridges in our municipality.” Posted at the Facebook page of the candidate Ilia Stefo, Date 15.11.2016.

[x] Based on verbal communication with members of the Commission of Election Administration Zone and the Secretary of the Tribunal of the District of Korçë, both candidates will vote with a court decision.

[xi] Law No. 115/2014, Date 31.07.2015, “For the administrative-territorial division of local government units in the Republic of Albania”, Official Bulletin No. 137, Date 01.09.2014.

[xii] Relation for the draft-law “For the administrative-territorial division of local government units in the Republic of Albania”, July 2014, page 53, “(...) Based on the report of the accounting experts for the functional areas, the Minister of State for Local Matters, , on Date 16 may 2014, based on approved criteria, presented the proposal with five versions of the map for the new administrative-territorial division, respectively with 30,39,47,57 and 63 functional areas. By the analysis of the five versions results that not all LGUs change the configuration from one version to the next, e.g. the functional areas of Kukës, Tropojë, Kolonjë or Lezhë do not change, confirming that the criterion of the functional area has been respected to the maximum.”,  www.reformaterritoriale.al. 

[xiii]  1Ersekë, 2Center Ersekë, 3Leskovik, 4CenterLeskovik, 5Novoselë, 6Barmash, 7Mollas and 8Çlirim.

[xiv] Decision No. 160, Date 26.10.2016, Central Election Commission, “Approval of the amount of ballot papers to be produced for each polling station, for the partial elections for the Mayor of Kolonjë, of 20.11.2016”,  www.cec.org.al  .

[xv] “Intersectoral Strategy for the Decentralization and Local Governance”, Date 29.07.2015“(...) Strategic Objective 1: Developments of capacities of local government units. The main aim in the progress of the reform of public administration at the local level will be the consolidation of a de-bureaucratized local administration, politically impartial, professional and transparent, ensuring the principles of gender balance and non-discrimination. It will be ready to answer to expectations of the communities and business for public services. Able to face the challenges of the European integration of the country and absorption of funds from the European Union, respecting at all times the standards, which are at the same time priorities of the reform of the public administration at the local level. Of precedence will be strengthening of the transparency and participation of communities, business and civil society in the public decision-making at the local level.” www.plgp.al  .

[xvi] Annex 1/1, Report of Functional Areas, page 368, “(...) Referring to the data about the administration of the district of Kolonjë, at the present moment for all local government units there is a personnel that totals to 170 employees. By applying a reduction of the personnel of up to 70% for all units that are absorbed and by leaving unchanged the personnel of the Municipality of Ersekë, the total number of the personnel will be reduced to 68 employees, or 40% less than the actual number.”,  www.reformaterritoriale.al .

[xvii] Decision No. 08, Date 19.02.2016, Municipal Council of the Municipality of Kolonjë, “For the approval of the number of employees and level of salary for the employees of the Municipality and institutions at its dependency”, “(...) Administration - 100 (one hundred), Employees for cleaning and services - 60 (sixty), Directory of Culture - 14 (fourteen), S.C. Gramozi - 5 (five).”

[xviii] Decision No. 73, Date 31.10.2016, Municipal Council of the Municipality of Kolonjë, “For providing the economic assistance for the period 1-31 October 2016”, “(...) The total number of families that benefit from economic assistance for the month of October 2016 is 350, with a fund of 1,360,132 ALL. (...) The number of persons who benefit from disability payment for the month of October 2016 is 901, with a fund of 7,326,004 ALL. (...)  1. Total number of disabled people - 242 persons;   2. Disability caretakers - 40 persons;   3. Blind persons - 71 persons;   4. Blind people caretakers - 25 persons;  5. Paraplegia-tetraplegia - 33 persons; 6. Caretakers for paraplegia-tetraplegia - 32 persons;   7. Work invalids - 458 persons.

[xix] Law No. 139/2017, Date 17.12.2015, “For local self-governance”, Transparency of the activity of the local government units, Article 15, Official Bulletin No. 249, Date 14.01.2016,  www.qbz.gov.al .

[xx] “National Monitoring Report: Local government under the lenses of the Right to Information”, Network of Investigative Journalism in Albania,  www.pushtetivendor.reporter.al .

 

Tirana, on 16 November2016!

 

_______________________________________________ 

* This Public Stance is published in Albanian and in English.

The Albanian version is the only official document.

ANNOUNCEMENT - Series of Round tables on Electoral Corruption and Citizens Participation - 19-22 December 2016!
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The fake assumption of independence of the Institution of Central Election Commission, as a failure of the aspiration of the 2012 Electoral Reform !
02/11/2016

Activists of Albanian Coalition of Domestic Observers observe the Presidential Elections in Moldova of October 30th, in the frame of International Elections Observation Mission of ENEMO !
28/10/2016

The immediate start of the work by the Ad-Hoc Parliamentary Committee, indispensable for avoiding the failure of the process for the Electoral Reform !
24/10/2016


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