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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...



The parliamentary elections of 18 June 2017; challenges and responsibilities of the stakeholders in the actual politic-institutional context and the risks the process faces !
07/12/2016

 P U B L I C   S T A N C E *

 

Download the Full Document in .pdf

 

Electoral processes constitute the fundaments and breathe of democratic processes and, as such, every electoral process’ importance is major.

This importance is even bigger in countries like Albania, where from almost 30 years the state-building start remains problematic and where, in continuity, the problematic of electoral processes is getting deeper and turning into a cyclical tradition.   Processes accompanied by administrative irregularities, strong accusations by the political leadership, abuse of public resources for the electoral campaign, lack of institutionalization of accusations or denounces, and political offers that do not reach the citizens. This specter of problematic was noticed also lately, in the two mayoral by-elections of the last months where, among others, being local elections, the political race should have been invisible. 

 

The upcoming parliamentary elections of June 2017 will have an added value, being the guarantee for the implementation of the justice reform.

The legality and legitimacy of the election of the new legislator will deeply determine the progress of the Justice Reform, which means that it will also determine the progress of the country itself for few decades to come.

On the other hand, the electoral campaign seems to be headed toward personalization, both in terms of blaming for the issues of the year preceding elections in implementing the justice reform, as well as in terms of continuation of this process. Two approaches that might damage the electoral process and the progress of the justice reform.

 

The other two dimensions of the progress of the electoral process, and especially of the electoral campaign, are expected to be the progress of the decriminalization process, which has been marked by lack of institutional efficiency until now, and the lack of functioning of the electoral reform.  

These are issues that might become strongly instrumental, especially with regard to integrity of the candidates or addressing of the phenomena of electoral corruption.

 

The Coalition of Domestic Observers (CDO), which is following in continuity institutional and political developments, raises its concerns and Public Stance with regard to challenges and responsibilities of the stakeholders in the actual context, as well as on the risk for precipitation in the spiral of political demagogy, at a moment in which the Justice Reform is decisive for the fate of the country.

 

I.    Bipartisan responsibility after the failure of the Ad-Hoc Parliamentary Committee for the Electoral Reform

 

On 5 December, the President of the Republic decreed 18 June 2017 as the date for holding the next elections for the Assembly of Albania. This decree marked also the failure of the legislative reformation process of the Electoral Code, which should have started almost a year ago with the decision for the establishment of the Ad-Hoc Parliamentary Committee for the Electoral Reform.   This Committee, formally, will finish its second mandate on 9 December[i] 2016.   The Committee held only three meetings during its lifetime, and, in each of the session, there were only affirmation of perspectives by its members.

 

Since 1999, with the Istanbul Charter[ii], Albania was engaged to consider and fulfill recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR.

Nevertheless, after 18 general electoral processes, none of the processes has been without criticism, moreover the types of critics are being recycled from one electoral process to the next, in different proportions. This criticism does not speak about fully legal or legitimate electoral processes. 

 

   Although in such a context and as one of the civil society actors strongly encouraging an in depth and integral reform, the Coalition of Domestic Observers considers dangerous every attempt to overcome this failure of the Committee and its further extension of the mandate[iii].

First, such an act would be in open violation with the domestic[iv] and international[v] legal guarantees, as well as impossible to be realized with the actual human and law enforcement capacities. What makes even more dangerous every further initiative for amendments through this Committee, and which does not give any more any guarantees, is the reason for the failure of the Committee’s work itself, that of the lack of political will.

 

The strong contraposition among the statements of the political leadership since the end of the Local Elections of 21 June 2015 and the actual behavior of the Committee clearly showed a lack of will.   

This lack of bipartisan will has never made known publicly the reason, or even any pretext for the lack of functioning of the Committee, while the time available for it or the engagement of interested stakeholders for the electoral process were maximal.

Discussing any topic at the present moment for legal amendments by this Committee opens the path to short-sighted and not well thought amendments, which will come as a result of the narrow political agreement and prepare since now a series of accusations and political demagogy throughout the upcoming electoral process.

 

    In these circumstances, the lack of responsibility shown and the complicity in guilt of the parliamentary political parties for the unreasonable failure of the Electoral Reform, must now constitute an additional reason for the increase of the political maturity and political will to help and influence positively to the progress of the coming electoral process.

The maturity and will of the political class must stay at the level of the importance that this electoral process carries and in the determination that it has for the progress of the Justice Reform process.

The popular vote for the parliamentary elections of 18 June 2017 will be more than a normal four-years governing mandate, because it will be the one that will fully give life and bring forward the Justice Reform.

The Albanian political class has shown that when the will is at the needed level of important situations, it has been able to undertake major processes. Such an engagement is required even for this situation.

 

 

 

II.    The administration of the upcoming electoral process according to the actual legal framework

 

The lost opportunity to improve the legal framework can serve to the political class and responsible institutions as a chance to improve the enforcement of the law.  This also as a chance to correct the tradition that continuous improvements of the legal framework have not given the chance to see the same legal framework implemented in few electoral processes in a row.

It has been, thus, hard to discern if and how much of the responsibility derives from the shortcoming of the legal framework, incapacity to enforce the law or the bad political will.

 

   The behavior of the Central Election Commission, as the supervising institution of the electoral processes, will be even more a determining factor throughout the electoral process for the parliamentary elections of 18 June 2017.

The new Head of this institution could use the experience of its predecessors in improving the direction of the institution and management of the electoral process.  One of the perspectives toward which the work of the Commission should be oriented is the pro-active behavior toward other operators in supervising the electoral process.  As the most important of such operators can be mentioned the General Prosecution and the State Police in addressing manifestations of electoral corruption, such as, among others, vote buying and vote selling or use of the public administration for electoral purposes.

At the institutional level it is suggested the reinforcement of the communication of the Central Election Commission with the liaison officials and of the latter with the anti-corruption coordinators of their respective institutions.

 

As well, regarding the normative framework within the actual legal framework and strengthening of human and logistical capacities in the progress of the electoral process remains to be fulfilled by this institution.

The harmonization and completion of the normative acts is a moment that has an essential importance for the 2017 electoral process.

Of primary importance is the unification of the discretionary practices of this institution to date, one of the most important among which are the adjudication of appeals.

 

Other matters to be taken into consideration in the frame of normative acts are the role and rights of both partisan and non-partisan observers, possibilities to invest the institution though third parties, possibilities for the institution to invest itself after denouncements on illegal acts, and financing of political parties.  The latter, taking into consideration that although the investigative capacity of the Central Election Commission is lacking, the reaction toward denouncements should not lack.

 

This proactive role is indispensable, aiming not only at the administration of a regular and legal process, but also for increasing the trust of the citizens at the institution, the electoral process and the government that it will produce.

 

 

 

III.    Electoral Justice as a guarantee to the electoral process and part of the Justice Reform

 

The electoral process is based in three main pillars: management, finances of political parties and electoral justice. If the management, as an administrative process with a considerable experience, can be considered to have reached considerable standards, for the other two pillars there is still much left to be done.

 

There is much to be done especially regarding electoral justice, the system of complaints and appeals, which can and has in some cases been determinant.

The body of institutions in charge for this process goes beyond electoral bodies, such as CEAZs, CEC and the Electoral College, including the General Prosecution, the police, courts of law, etc.

These institutions cannot be considered to lack the needed legal bases to deal with the electoral process, but until now they have suffered by phenomena such as lack of law enforcement, institutional irresponsibility, political attacks, lack of legal investment of the parties or lack of institutionalization of accusations.

 

For all these actors of the system of electoral justice, even in the absence of a reform of the legal framework, much remains to be done in enforcing the actual law. This both from parties involved in the process, holding these institutions accountable, as well as institutions themselves, distancing themselves from the illegal practices.

 

For this reason, the Justice Reform should address with priority the phenomena of electoral corruption, as well as that part of the justice system that deals narrowly with electoral justice.

One of the main issues to be raised here is the Electoral College. Until 10 December 2016, according to the Electoral Code, is expected the drawing of lots by the High Justice Council for the selection of the eight judges with a four-year mandate that will constitute the Electoral College of the Court of Appeals of Tirana[vi].

Due to constitutional amendments of 22 July 2016, the High Council of Justice is expected to terminate its presence within eight months from the entry into force of the amendments[vii]. The transitory functions of the High Council of Justice (HCJ) were determined in the Law “For the status of the judges and prosecutors in the Republic of Albania”[viii].Regarding formulation of the duties of the HCJ, this act seems exclusive in the transitory functions and leaves aside the duties that stem from the Electoral Code.

 

   What is really a question is the effect that might have the process of Justice Reform at the body of the Electoral College, which regards the vetting of these members, while such body enjoys full immunity guaranteed by the Electoral Code[ix].

 

 

Besides the above and in parallel with the institutional responsibility and engagement of the political leadership, what remains crucial for the good progress of every electoral process, especially the one of 18 June 2017, is the involvement of the citizens.

This involvement extends from the exercise of the right to vote to the forms of direct civic engagement, one of the most important of the latter being denouncing every case of electoral corruption or other legal violation.

 

Any legal framework, as optimal as it can be and with as much political and institutional engagement as it can have, cannot ensure the organization of an electoral process suitable for a democratic country without the full and direct contribution of the citizens. The regular and normal functioning of the institutions cannot happen without the trust of the citizens.

 

What can be noticed with concern in continuity is that the long transition of Albanian democracy is, among others, feeding a tiredness and lack of trust almost irrevocable of the citizens toward all stakeholders, domestic and international and, what is worse, toward democracy itself.

 

As well, lack of enforcement and emptiness until now of democratic values or aspirations, the continuous legal and institutional uncertainty is in continuity offering oligarchic and state capture tendencies.

Stopping tendencies of merging and separation of politics from public institutions is becoming more and more emergent. The maximal point of approach of this antidemocratic and bipartisan tendency are electoral processes, moment in which the civic engagement and that of non-governmental organizations in attempting to highlight and address the issues and violations should be maximal.

 

The contribution and expertise of international partners has been and is vital for the state formation processes in Albania and strengthening of domestic democratic capacities. The latest case of this was the major initiation of international partners in starting and pursuing the process of the Justice Reform.

In line with this and the long term democratic investment for the country must be seen also the electoral process of 2017.

 

The legality and legitimacy of the new legislation could be a step forward, but could also harm from the start and in an irreparable way the reformation of the justice system, which is attempting to start among many difficulties.

 

 

To conclude, the Coalition of Domestic Observers, regarding all concerns and challenges raised in this Public Stance, expresses the strong conviction for the need and indispensability for a coordinated and unison action of all stakeholders in strengthening the civic non-partisan and independent capacities, not only in the detailed monitoring and support of all electoral institutions and operators in preparing and pursuing the upcoming electoral process, but also in creating a climate that encourages the lively and critical civic activism in following all future democratic processes.

 


[i] Decision No. 110/2015, date 21.12.2015, Assembly of Albania, “For establishing the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee for the Electoral Reform”, Official Bulletin No. 237, date 06.01.2016;  Decision No. 3/2016, date 28.01.2016, Assembly of Albania, “For the approval of the composition of the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee for the Electoral Reform”, Official Bulletin No. 15, date 08.02.2016;  Decision No. 38/2016, date 19.05.2016, Assembly of Albania, “For a change in the Decision of the Assembly 3/2016 ‘For the approval of the composition of the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee for the Electoral Reform’”, Official Bulletin No. 102, date 09.06.2016;  Decision No. 42/2016, date 09.06.2016, Assembly of Albania, “For the extension of the time of activity of the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee for the Electoral Reform”, Official Bulletin No. 118, date 24.06.2016;   Decision No. 62/2016, date 15.09.2016, Assembly of Albania, “For a change in the Decision of the Assembly No. 3/2016 ‘For the approval of the composition of the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee for the Electoral Reform’, changed”, Official Bulletin No. 183, date 30.09.2016. www.qbz.gov.al .

[ii]Statement of the Istanbul Summit”, Sixth Summit of OSCE of the Heads of States, Istanbul, 18-19 November 1999. www.osce.org

[iii] In discussions at the desk of the Central Election Commission, throughout the last two sessions of the dates 01.12.2016 and 03.12.2016, have been made references to the work of the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee for the Electoral Reform. In some cases the members of the CEC have referred to the discussions at the Parliamentary Committee and have invited the representatives of political parties at the CEC to address issues to this Committee.

[iv] Law No. 146/2014, date 30.10.2014, “For public notification and consultation”, Official Bulletin No. 178, date 24.11.2014. www.qbz.gov.al

[v]Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters” (CDL-AD (2002) 23 rev), adopted by the Venice Commission at the 52nd Plenary Session (Venice, 18-19 October 2002), II. Conditions for implementing the principles, 2. Regulatory levels and stability of electoral law, (…) “a. Apart from rules on technical matters and detail – which may be included in regulations of the executive –, rules of electoral law must have at least the rank of a statute. b. The fundamental elements of electoral law, in particular the electoral system proper, membership of electoral commissions and the drawing of constituency boundaries, should not be open to amendment less than one year before an election, or should be written in the constitution or at a level higher than ordinary law.” www.venice.coe.int .

Interpretative declaration on the stability of the electoral law” (CDL-AD(2005)043), adopted by the Council for Democratic Elections in the 15th meeting (Venice, 15 December 2005) and the Venice Commission in the 65th Plenary Session (Venice, 16-17 December 2005), (...) “5. In general any reform of electoral legislation to be applied during an election should occur early enough for it to be really applicable to the election.”  www.venice.coe.int .

[vi] Law No. 10019, date 29.12.2008, “Electoral Code of the Republic of Albania”, Official Bulletin No., 189, 2008; changed with Law No. 74/2012, date 19.07.2012; Law No. 31/2015, date 02.04.2015, (…) Article 146 “3. The drawing of lots for the selection of the eight judges of the Electoral College of the Court of Appeals in Tirana is conducted no later than 5 days after the decree which sets the date of elections to the Assembly. No later than 48 hours after the decree is issued, the High Council of Justice publicly announces and publishes, in at least three newspapers with the highest circulation, the date, time, and location where the lots will be drawn, and sends to the parliamentary parties the list of judges who will be included in the lot. The lot is drawn in the presence of the public, representatives of political parties, coalitions and the media. The names of eight judges are drawn from the lottery box. Prior to the drawing, the persons who are present may inspect the lottery box and the names of judges placed in it. After the inspection, eight names are drawn from the box. They constitute the Electoral College of the Court of Appeals in Tirana and are delegated into office by the High Council of Justice immediately after the drawing of lots.” www.qbz.gov.al

[vii] Law No. 8417, date 21.10.1998, “Constitution of the Republic of Albania”, Official Bulletin No. 28/1998; changed with Law 9675, date 13.01.2007; Law No. 9904, date 21.04.2008; Law No. 88/2012, date 18.09.2012; Law 137/2015, date 17.12.2015; Law No. 76/2016, date 22.07.2016, (…) “5. The High Council of Judiciary is established within eight months of the entry into force of this law. Three judge members and two non-judge members of the High Council of the Judiciary are appointed firstly with a three year mandate, with the aim to partially renew this body. The members of the High Council of Justice end their mandate after the establishment of the High Council of the Judiciary, but no later than the selection of all members of the High Council of the Judiciary, according to the law. For the first nominations for the non-judges members of the High Council of the Judiciary that will be made after the entry into force of this Law, the verification of the candidates, in accordance with Article 147 of the Constitution, will be made by the General Secretary of the Assembly of Albania and by the International Monitoring Mission.” www.qbz.gov.al

[viii] Law No. 96/2016, date 06.10.2016, “For the status of judges and prosecutors in the Republic of Albania”, Official Bulletin No. 208, date 07.11.2016, Article 160, Responsible bodies for the transitory period, (…) “1. Until the establishment of the High Council of the Judiciary and the High Inspectorate of Justice, the High Council of Justice and the existing inspectorates will continue to exercise the following competencies, according to the rules provided in this law.” www.qbz.gov.al

[ix] Law No. 10019, date 29.12.2008, “Electoral Code of the Republic of Albania”, Official Bulletin No., 189, 2008; changed with Law No. 74/2012, date 19.07.2012; Law No. 31/2015, date 02.04.2015, Article 149, Immunity of the Electoral College judges, (…) “A judge of the Electoral College cannot be subject to disciplinary proceedings during the entire term for which the College is constituted. During this period, judges of the Electoral College of the Court of Appeals in Tirana cannot be removed from the office of judge for reasons specified in article 32 of Law No. 9877, dated 18 February 2008, “On the organization of the judicial power in the Republic of Albania”, as well as for professional shortcomings. They cannot be given the performance evaluation of 'incapable”.” www.qbz.gov.al .

 

Tirana, on 7 December 2016!

 

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

The Albanian version is the only official document.

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