Sali Berisha back to power in Albania

Thu 7 Jul 2005

Early results of the 3 July elections show the opposition Democratic Party leading in Albania’s parliamentary elections. International observers said the vote complied partially with international standards, but was marred by incidents of violence and organisational shortcomings.

Albania’s main opposition party, headed by the country’s former president Sali Berisha, has taken the lead in parliamentary elections, but foreign monitors criticised the vote as falling short of international standards.
Sali Berisha’s Democratic Party (DP) is ahead, with 45 per cent to the ruling Socialist Party’s (SP) 30 per cent, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC). Ilir Meta’s Socialist Movement for Integration Party was trailing in third place, with 8 per cent. Results from an exit poll -- the first ever in Albania -- also showed Berisha’s DP leading.
From the directly elected 100 seats in Parliament, Berisha got 55, the Socialist 42, and the rest is distributed among small parties. Parties on the left will dominate the proportional vote (40 seats) with a total of 21 deputies to 19 for the right and centrist parties.
According to these numbers, the DP does not have the chance to get an absolute majority and will therefore have to look for support by a smaller ally. Such support is most likely to come from the right-centrist Republican Party led by Fatmir Mediu. Following the announcement of the official results, which is being delayed by 4 days now, the president is expected to ask the winning party to propose a candidate for the PM post. Democratic Party chairman Sali Berisha is the most likely candidate. He already declared in a press conference that he is committed to a “soft and civilized transition of power.”
"The real winners of these elections are the democracy and Albania. I am happy that Albania, with the high turnout and the plebiscitary vote of Albanians, opened the last door for association and integration into the EU and NATO," Nano told journalists and supporters at SP headquarters.
International monitors, however, said the elections complied only partially with democratic norms. "The election day was generally peaceful but a few violent incidents, one fatal, cast a shadow over the process," the OSCE said in a report, referring to the shooting death of an election official. On Monday, two men were killed during post-election celebrations.