Submitted by The Democratic Party of Albania
June 30thlocal pre-voting process has been taking place in a very tense political and constitutional crisis. The December 2018 corruption scandals released by Voice of America and in particular the revelations of collusion between the Socialist Party and organized crime in Durres to steal the 2017 general elections, placed the Albanian opposition under tremendous public pressure with many intellectuals openly demanding opposition to abandon the parliament as a drastic measure against a criminalized government. On February 22nd, the opposition parliamentary parties nullified their mandates. Because of the impunity for the electoral crimes committed by the highest Socialist officials, the opposition decided not to participate in farce elections organised by the same perpetrators.
In mid-June 2019, a series of publications by the main German daily Bild exposed how PM Rama, various Socialist ministers, MPs and police officers had colluded with criminals to rig the local by-elections of Diber municipality in 2016 and general elections in Durrës region in 2017.
This pre-voting process is developing at a time when Albania is without a Constitutional Court, without a Supreme Court and in the light of complete impunity for all those exposed in the 2015 and 2017 election criminal vote-buying and vote-controlling schemes. Preparatory measures undertaken by the government and its controlled bodies in this pre-voting process have demonstrated the political abuse of the process as well as its unlawfulness.
On June 10th, Albanian President Ilir Meta cancelled local elections after months of anti-government protests calling for socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama to stand down following the electoral fraud and collusion with criminals.
Four CEC members all of them controlled by the SP, in breach of the Constitution, decided to vote against the decree of the President, calling it a mere administrative act, although according to the Constitution only the Constitutional Court may review the Decree and until it so does, the decree is in force.
On June 18th declaration, the CEC further called on the local authorities to consider the Presidents’ decree null and void, which is in violation of the law because the CEC has no competence do decide on the constitutionality of the decree.
On June 27th and amidst a deepening crisis, Albanian President Ilir Meta issued a new decree setting the local election date on October 13th 2019. In a meeting on the same day, the CEC president Zguri urged the four CEC SP-controlled members to accept the decree of the president bearing in mind that it was officially published by the Ministry of Justice in the Official Journal. CEC members agreed to review it at a later time, given that the “decree is null and void” as stated by CEC member Biba.
Albanian Electoral Code does not foresee elections with one candidate, which means that elections with one candidate are null and void. It stipulates that the winning candidate is the one receiving the largest number of votes (First-Past-The-Post system).
The whole process is being managed only by one party: i.e. the Socialist Party that is taking part as a subject in this election is the only party that administers the whole process, the pre-voting, voting, and the counting one.
1) Election administration
1.1 Political capture of the decision-making of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC).
At present, the CEC decision-making majority is entirely in the hands of one party, the Socialist Party (SP), which has 4 out of the actual 5 members in the commission (out of 7 in total). The Electoral Code, Article 14 clearly stipulates that the main ruling majority party (SP) should have only two members. The current CEC formula has collapsed, disrupting the political balance of the CEC, because the Parliament implemented very badly the partial rotation required by the Electoral Code, enabling the Socialist Party to illegally control the CEC decision-making on its own by having 4 instead of 2 members as foreseen in the law.
Control by SP of the CEC and of all second-, third-level election commissions and counting teams violates the Electoral Code and hands over management of elections entirely to the Government rendering it completely untrustworthy. These basic unlawfulness of any CEC decision makes all CEC preparatory acts legally invalid and consequentially renders the entire voting process illegal. The Electoral College is being blackmailed by the Government by misusing the vetting process as a blackmail tool. The Coalition for Reforms, Integration and Consolidated Institution (KRIIK) also found that the CEC is in clear violation of the law in this respect.
These violations, coupled with the failure of the Electoral College to uphold the law (see below), have led to systematic violations of the entire system of independent decision-making and of appeal guarantees which are provided by the Electoral Code. The collapse of this system undermines the credibility of the voting process and results.
1.2 Government control over Electoral College
The Electoral College of the Tirana Court of Appeals is the only judicial body to review electoral complaints against illegal CEC decisions. Pressure including blackmailing the judges with the vetting process have proven productive for the majority. The rejection of the complaint against the illegal registration by CEC of the newly created party Democratic Conviction on the very last day of the registration deadline, showed that the College is ready to render decisions at the service of the Government. The Electoral College decided not to accept the request, claiming that the claimant had no legitimate interest, despite the fact that the claimant is a party which is registered as an electoral subject. Illegal registration of electoral subjects violates the electoral contest and results, allowing unlawful subjects to receive votes that would otherwise be received by legally registered subjects. Such illegality, when it affects the election results, would lead to the invalidation of the elections, as stipulated in Article 160, point 1, letter “a” of the Code.
1.3 Denial of the right of the opposition to be part of the electoral administration
According to the Electoral Code, membership and decision-making (4:3) in the second-level and third-level election administration bodies are controlled in one half of them by the ruling majority, and in the other half by the opposition, based on last election results. This right in the Electoral Code is linked to the status of a parliamentary party and not to running in elections. In February 2019, the CEC, in accordance with the Electoral Code, decided through a sub-legal act that the Democratic Party shall have two members, either Chairperson or Secretary of all second-level and third-level election administration commissions. However, on 23 May 2019, the CEC, in violation of the Electoral Code and the sub-legal act adopted by the CEC itself in February, which is still in force, decided not to accept DP and LSI members in election administration commissions, although the DP and LSI proposals were submitted within the legal deadline.
1.4 Unprecedented rejection of the appeal by the Electoral College
The rejection by the Electoral College of the appeal to the illegal registration by the CEC of the “Democratic Conviction”, without examining the merits of the case is unprecedented. It is the first time that the Electoral College decided that an electoral subject cannot appeal the CEC decision related to another electoral subject, despite having decided in a different way before (in 2017, the College accepted the legitimacy of an analogous complaint).
1.5 Lack of opposition commissioners in the counting stations
According to the law, the counting station members are to be distributed among the SP, DP and LSI. The CEC decided with a 4:1 vote that the opposition representatives be replaced by the Socialist Party, in violation with the law, making Socialist representatives the majority also in the counting stations. The other two members, were appointed by the Civil Society in a non-transparent and illegal manner as appointing of counting team members outside of parliamentary parties is not allowed by the law. This normative act was passed with only four votes, while a normative act of the CEC can be adopted with no less than five votes.
1.6 Use of police force to administer the elections
Following the decree of the President of the Republic, half of the municipalities have officially requested from the CEC to free all venues under their property which were made available to be used in the election process. On the other hand, state police are carrying out the illegal order by the CEC and has taken under its protection the municipality-owned venues of election administration commissions, by using tear gas and violence against the local authorities. The venues of election administration commissions are now being administered and guarded by state police in clear violation with the law.
1.7 Illegal change of voting stations premises from public to private
The CEC decisions nr.832, nr.847, nr.899, nr.903 and nr.919 were taken in the last days prior to June 30th to change voting stations venues from public to private, which is in violations with the Electoral Code articles 62, 93 and 94.
2. Participation of political parties
The head of the OSCE/ODHIR observer mission stated that for her, these are the first elections without the participation of the opposition.
2.1 Use of illegal measures to create the false impression of alternative candidates
When the opposition decided not to register for the elections, the Government engaged openly in the creation of new political parties to secure a façade for the elections. Despite this, today the lack of competition is a fact, because in the majority of the municipalities (31 out of 61 in total), the candidate from the Socialist Party has no contestant. Running a single candidate is against the Electoral Code Article 166, which stipulates that the winner will be declared the candidate who wins the most votes. In the other 22 municipalities, the alternative candidate comes from the illegally registered Democratic Conviction party.
2.2 The illegal registration in Court of the Democratic Conviction party.
There is clear evidence on the legal violations regarding its registration as a party and of its candidates. On April 21st, a former DP exponent, removed by the DP lists in 2017, announced to set up a new political party, which in two days gathered over 3000 citizens’ signatures and prepared the documentation for registration on the day of the registration deadline, April 23rd. The court decided in favor of the registration of this party on 25th of April in an unprecedented act. Hundreds of citizens have appealed the illegal use of their names and signatures in courtand the case is still under review by the Court of Appeals. In other cases, signatories were not even physically in Albania at the time. Further, there are cases when official examinations have proven that their signatures were forged.
2.3 Unlawful registration by the CEC of the Democratic Conviction (DC)
Although the last legal deadline for election registration with the CEC for the local elections was 23rd of April, the CEC accepted a party whose registration in court was completed on 25th of April. Legally, DC is not considered a party to date, because the court decision for the party’s registration has not become final yet. The CEC is in breach of Electoral Code Article 64/1. This CEC decision is also in breach with two other previous CEC positions, wherethe CEC maintained that if the decision to register has not become final, the political party shall be considered legally non-existent and cannot be registered as a subject for the elections.
3. Registration of candidates
3.1 Falsification of official data for registration of Democratic Conviction candidates
According to the Electoral Code, in order for a candidate of a political party to be registered, either the party should have a seat in Parliament for the last 6 months, or it must be supported by not less than 1% of the voters in the local municipality. To avoid the legal criteria to collect 1% of voters’ signatures in each municipality, Socialist majority in Parliament falsified official data by submitting to the CEC an untruthful certificate on behalf of this subject stating that it had at least one MP for at least the last six months prior to registration as an electoral subject. This political party which filed for court registration on April 25th, did not have any seats in in Parliament prior to that date. The CEC violated the law when it accepted the support of two MPs for the registration of candidates:
- MP Andi Permeti was sworn in as a new MP on April 25th, also the registration date for the new party, violating Article 68/3.
- MP Lefter Koka gave his support in writing but only after the DC party was registered by the CEC. Mr Koka was until February an MP for the opposition Socialist Movement for Integration which withdrew from parliament. Therefore he could not fulfill the criteria of six months at the time of lending his support.
Although this fact was established by the CEC Chairman, the 4 Socialist members in the CEC voted for the registration of the candidates of this Party, in blatant violation of the law.
3.2 Keeping resigned candidates on the ballot despite of their withdrawal
Following the illegalities of the DC party registration, some of the candidates from that party submitted their resignation from the candidacy. The will of the candidate is a legal criterion for registration and participation in the elections. Contrary to previous practice, the CEC rejected their resignations, leaving resigned candidates’ names in the race although they have declared not to be running anymore, which was the case for the candidate Salvador Kacaj of Lexha municipality and Bledar Sinella of Kavaja municipality. The request from another candidate, Ylber Gjata of the municipality of Kamez was not take for consideration at all by the CEC.
In addition, both the CEC and the Electoral College, in a politically influenced process, have rejected the request from an electoral subject to deregister following the decree of the President to cancel 30 June as an election date. The appealing party was forced by the CEC and the court to remain in the race, despite it is only a constitutional right. In their decisions, both bodies ruled against claiming the invalidity of the presidential decree, despite it can be reviewed only by the Constitutional Court. This case is widely viewed as construed specifically to provide for a court decision against the decree of the President. It has marked a clear case of judicial forum-shopping by the Prime Minister.
4. Voter register
4.1 Expiration of voters’ identification documents (identity cards)
About 1.4 million cards expire in the period between January to June 2019. The government has not developed any plan of measures to provide citizens with valid cards on time. Also, the government did not foresee subsidy schemes for the population strata in need while the ID price increased, creating a potential for buying poor voters by giving them free vouchers for the ID cards. Postponing the card validity expiration date through a decision of the council of ministers but without changing the card expiration date itself, opens up massive opportunities for forgery of cards and creates massive opportunities for obstructing voters by using, through pressure and/or payment, their expired cards, which they will not need to use again because they have already expired.
4.2 Manipulation and illicit processing of voters’ lists
Official auditing carried out by independent CEC experts has proven that the 2019 election lists are not produced from this Registry but are extracted from it and processed and developed in another, easily manipulated external system. One evidence of manipulation is the elimination of 270,000 records of “999” voters, a code which corresponds to a voter with an unknown address. The elimination of such records was carried out upon a verbal order of the Minister of Interior in blatant violation of the Electoral Code (Article 50). Such a procedure requires legal basis and door-to-door verification for each case.
4.3 Lack of an address system
The lists are only valid when the voters are registered where they actually live (Article 44 and Article 46 of the Electoral Code.) In Tirana, the Albanian Helsinki Committee found that local authorities had not notified the voters about their voting station as stated on the law. The address registration system should be legal, transparent, trustworthy and must provide full, equal access to both the government and opposition.
5. The Campaign
5.1 Political protection and impunity for those exposed in the electoral fraud and collusion with criminals in the 2015 and 2017 elections
There are currently no records of convictions for election fraud, while case files 184/2016 and 339/1/2017 prove that the deliberate failure to investigate electoral crimes has created a public perception of impunity for these crimes. Prime Minister Edi Rama and the Socialist Party have never publically condemned or called for the investigation of these criminal activities. On the contrary, they have publicly protected all political representatives who were exposed cooperating with organized crime for vote-buying in the 2015 and 2017 elections, as they are either running the main SP campaign (the case of Gjiknuri and Dako) or they are running as mayoral candidates (as in the case of Pjerin Ndreu and Dionis Imeraj)
5.2 Running candidates with criminal records and associated with organized crime
The Socialist Party is again running candidates with criminal records and associated with organized crime even in these local elections. There are 5 socialist mayoral candidates intercepted in the two criminal investigations no.184 and 339/1, including Pjerin Ndreu (municipality Lezha), Valbona Sako (municipality Durrës), Agron Malaj (municipality Mat), Dionis Imeraj (municipality Dibra), Elton Arbana (municipality Shijak). Further, the CEC has not made the necessary verifications to rule them out, and has further delayed the verification for the incumbentSocialistmayorswith criminal records Artur Bushi of Kruja, andTërmet Peci of Tepelena.
5.3 Political use of State Police
There is a widespread presence of police forces and special forces countrywide. The State Police is officially manipulating the facts in support of government propaganda. This was the case of the alleged “wounded police officers” in Diber on the night of June 28th, which were exposed as mere fabrication by the regional hospital there.
5.4 Use of Special Operational Forces (RENEA and FNSH)
Contrary to their functional duties as foreseen in the Law for State Police nr.108/2014 and CEC decision nr.176 dated 19.03.2013, the special forces from State Police and the Armed Forces are deployed in the municipalities of Lezha, Dibra and Shkodra to supervise the voting process. These troops can only be deployed by the order of the General Director of the Police after a CEC request, which is not the case.
Riot Police Units (FNSH) from Shkoder have been deployed in the municipality of Kamez in violation with the law which states that ion election day, all armed forces in uniform should stay within their administrative boundaries.
There are numerous indications that SP militants will be dressed as police officers on election day.
Near every KZAZ there are police officers patrolling in civilian clothing. There are indications that people with criminal records will provoke incidents in order to blame the opposition.
5.4 Police terror against civilians including women and children
In the night of June 28th, private homes have been searched without a warrant and violence has been used by the state police forces in the city of Diber. Police forces have busted in at 03:00 AM armed and violent against civilians and their children. Korab Shehi denounced the police violence against his family publically.
5.5 Incident near KZAZ nr.6 in Vau Dejes
On June 27th, an incident took place near the KZAZ nr.6 in Vau Dejes. All facts point to a provocation by the SP and Tom Doshi as there are no footage or images of opposition supporters clashing with the police or attacking this election administration commission. Tom Doshi was present during this incident and immediately after he publicly guaranteed the transportation of the elections materials by private plane, although he is in no official capacity to do so. Doshi is a persona non-grata for US State Department due to crime ties and corruption. Opposition leader Lulzim Basha condemned the attack and denounced Doshi as its perpetrator. Rama and Doshi were side to side during SP campaign opening in Shkoder on June 20th.
5.6 Incident near KZAZ nr.2 in Shkoder
On 28th June, KZAZ nr.2 in Shkoder was damaged by unidentified persons. After the incident, video footage by the security cameras were released showing that the perpetrators were Socialist Party supporters, despite of the accusations by the State Police.
5.7 Abuse of state resources and pressure on administration
At least two members of this monitoring body, Mr. Damian Gjiknuri and Mr. Ulsi Manja are amongst the most prominent political figures involved in the vote-buying investigation of Dibra by-election. This has perpetuated public perception of impunity and even promotion of those alleged to be involved in electoral crimes. There are several cases public administration use for political campaign, such as regional customs directors openly campaigning for the government. There is massive use of state resources on the side of ruling majority, including the State Police and other state institutions, in a clear violation of the OSCE principle of “clear separation of state from parties”.
In addition, another major violation is the pressure on voters and specifically on employees in the public administration with threats of job loss. Wiretaps of the prosecution files published by the German daily Bild highlighted as a constant feature the pressure on voters and especially on public administration. Such pressure was exerted by both superior officials including government minister, MPs etc, as well as criminals. In the current voting process, widespread reports inform of massive pressure on employees in administration, businesses and persons who depend from public services, in order to force them to vote, in order to boost voter turnout against the boycott of the opposition. It is of major concern that in the presence of only Socialist Party polling station commissions and the pressure exerted, the secrecy of the voting process is inexistent.
5.7 Misuse of church in the campaign
There have been two cases of the use of the Orthodox Church for political campaign by the Socialist Party. The Orthodox Church has condemned these two cases as unacceptable and in violation of the law nr.10057 dated 22.01.2009.
5.8 Transportation of Voting materials
Articles 99 and 100 of the Electoral Code stipulate that voting materials must be distributed by the CEC to the KZAZ no later than 3 days prior to election day, and to the voting station no later than 15 hours before the voting starts. These deadlines have not been met as part of voting ballots and materials have been transported before the legally required deadline and there is no information where they are stored and under whose custody. There is ample evidence that SP militants are engaged in the distribution and transport of election materials by using their private vehicles.
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In January 2019, Voice of America published an investigating report, based on official prosecutor’s recordings revealing bargains for vote-buying between bosses of a notorious drug trafficking organization and Vangjush Dako, the Mayor of Durres and Leader of the Durres regional Socialist Party.
See enclosed for attachment 1: KRIIK declaration
 In CEC decision 241 dated 19.04.2013 and CEC decision 158 dated 16.04.2015, the College considered the similar complaint legitimate.
 Decision no. 865, date 25.06.2019 “On the establishment of ballot counting teams for the local elections of 30 June 2019”.
 Mrs. Audry Glover Press Conference https://a2news.com/2019/05/24/njihen-zgjedhjet-pa-opoziten-glover-driblon/
 This fact was independently determined by the non-governmental organizations which monitor the electoral process in Albania. See the public statements of the organization “Coalition for Reform, Integration and Consolidated Institutions – KRIIK” of May 6, 2019 and May 17, 2019
 See Attachment 4 Appeals against illegal registration
 See Attachment 3 Examination of Forged Signatures
 See Attachment 2 Court Decision Not Final
 Article 64/1 “Any political subject needs to present its request for registration not later than 70 days before lections day.”
 CEC decision nr.241 dated 19.04.2013 on the Registration of the electoral subject “Civic Party of Albania”, and CEC decision nr.158 dated 16.04.2015 on the registration of the electoral subject “Shkodra 2015 Party”.
Article 68/3 “The mandate of the supporting MP should be at least 6 months valid”.
CEC decision nr.638 dated 22.06.2019.
 Vote-selling constitutes a serious crime (corruption) since 2017. In addition, in accordance with the Decriminalization Law, convictions for this offense and other electoral crimes shall constitute grounds for prohibition from public functions for 20 years after conviction. This proves the purpose of the law, however the impunity has made the Criminal Code and the Decriminalization Law de facto invalid.