Political standoff stymies Albania's presidential vote

09/06/2012

Disagreement between the major parties in parliament has delayed the election of the next president.

By Erl Murati for Southeast European Times in Tirana -- 09/06/12

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The main Albanian political players are still at an impasse on the election of a new president. [Reuters]

Three rounds of voting in parliament have failed to result in a new president in Albania, throwing the matter to a fourth vote on Monday (June 11th) and jeopardising the nation's status with the EU.

The EU has been pressing Albania politicians to unify the government before making it a candidate for membership. But the main political parties could not agree on in the first three rounds of parliament voting, in which the winning candidate must receive at least three-fifths of the vote.

The candidate presented by the ruling Democratic Party (DP), Xhezair Zaganjori, withdrew on Friday (June 8th). "My purpose was to be elected as president with the consensus of the majority and the opposition. I will not be candidate at the fourth round because the opposition does not trust my candidacy and I don't want to be elected only with the ruling coalition votes," Zaganjori said a few hours after the parliament session.

According to the constitution, in the two last rounds the head of state can be chosen with a simple majority, which is possible for the ruling coalition as it holds more than half of the seats in parliament.

"We stand firm to give the country a president," Prime Minister Sali Berisha of the DP said has repeatedly stated.

The EU has said it will not recognise the vote as a unifying process after it proceeds past three rounds.

The opposition did not offer an alternative candidate; instead it asked the majority to bring in other names for discussion. Socialist Party MP Qemal Minxhozi told SETimes that the president should not be imposed by the majority, but it should come out of the negotiation table between the two main party leaders. "Until now we are not dealing with a transparent process. What we want is a president coming out of the negotiations between the two leaders of DP and SP," Minxhozi said.

Democratic Party MP Dashnor Sula invited the opposition to make its own suggestions.

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"The two leaders meeting should not determine the consensual candidacy, but the vote in the parliament. The majority has publicly introduced its own candidate. The opposition should introduce its candidate too… We can't have 'an appointed' president. The candidates must enter the race and let the best win. That's democracy," Sula told SETimes.

Former head of the Socialist Party and former Prime Minister Fatos Nano has publicly asked Edi Rama, chairman of the SP, to support him as its candidate. But Rama said that the future president should not be someone with strong political background.

The faltering presidential election process has prompted EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule to send a letter to Berisha and Rama urging them to re-establish dialogue.

"The country's president should be elected through consultation," Fule said on May 30th.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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