Ministry of Integration observes elections?! Not in our country!
As expected the public debate of the month was focused on Local Election, which are considered by the EU as a prior test for opening accession negotiations and for this purpose there was a big number of observers. “European Institutions are following with special attention the process that precedes local elections. They will be a serious and important test for the country and its readiness to hold free and fair elections, according to European standarts. These elections, should be an opportunity to prove that the country has learned from previous experiences and is ready to reaffirm the European ambition” Mr. Kukan said. If the EU hoped, just like us, for the head of the Integration Ministry to be engaged like an observer and a promoter of rule of law and democratic rules, they were disappointed. With regret we observed that this institution has not been part of the process and Mrs. Gjosha has been engaged with the presentation of SMI candidates and performed her party duties, overlooking obligations to citizens. We would wait, being one of the conditions imposed by the European Commission, to get a positive opinion in September, to appeal for participation on elections, for transparent processes, for a constructive political dialogue, for a better visibility of candidates. Why haven’t we heard of an appeal for financial source claim of the party candidate during the campaign, as a constitutional obligation to be respected? Ministry of Integration, we’ll reapeat it over and over again, should be a model for line Ministries. But what it really did was to reinforce the wrong perceptions towards institutions in the country, that E-day is the only important thing and it defines if there have been free and democratic elections. What we deduct, not only from the observers reports, even from the European officials statements is that the election process has been under the loop and judged step by step.
2- BIG BROTHER is WATCHING YOU!
EU’s philosophy on giving the right attention to the election process is based on the fact that it shows the democracy level and its kind, pluralism and rule of law, institution functioning. Elections can tell how the abovementioned work and what the flows are. The question is: Did Albania pass the test? How would we evaluate ourself thinking from the European Commission prespective? Comparing reports before and after E-day, referring especially to the Third Intermediate Report of the Coalition for Domestic Observers and the Preliminary Findings of the Election Observers report from the International Observer Mission, some seem to agree on what the problematics were and from what the process did suffer. Starting from the fact that citizens didn’t get a writing notice for participation in elections during January 14th – March 14th according to the law, so they can check their names in Voters Lists. Another problem was shown regarding the election administration, which except politicized debates and non-consistent decisions, kept projecting an image as a source of electoral right, that turns the Electoral College into a onesided overbearing rules organ. Among others, media exploitation and unequal television time coverage, candidates eclipsed from party leaders, and the classic “group voting”. EU expressed prior attention on three main topics: participation, vote buying and decriminalization. The first two concerns were shown in the form of appealing for participation and not selling votes, two aspects that in fact are not related to institution or governmental will because both of them are done by citizen cooperation. Related to these aspects, Mrs. Vlahutin said: “That is a day on which you will have your personal right to choose the one that will represent you. Just a few years ago, the right to vote was denied to a considerable part of society even in the Western European countries. You have gained that right today and don’t hesitate to choose the right candidate that will decide for the services and development of the country”. The fact that the prior OSBE/ODIHR report, which is taken in consideration by the European Commission, states that outside the voting centers militant groups of people were noticed is not in our favour. Not even the lack of investigation on media published that “vote buying” cases. Participation problems are judged as expression of faith from citizens towards their political alternatives and the election process itself.
Decriminalization on the other side is the hottest topic, which is related to an agenda that the EU is trying to establish in cooperation with political parties. Trying to ensure an acceptable standart for the public office choosen, mostly regarding the incrimation issue. Mr. Kukan expresses the EU’s oppinon on the subject: “Decriminalization is a serious problem, which should be addressed with responsibility during other elections. It should be extirpated once and for all. It’s a pity that it is not solved yet. I remember that during the negotiations on December 2014, my collegue Fleckenstein and I were clear about the topic, and we thought everyone was clear. It’s shameful that it still exists as a problem”. Some of the cases have been investigatet by BIRN, cooperating with the investigating structures of countries they were caught. But according to political scientist Afrim Krasniqi, there are a total number of 6 incriminated, and most of them have good probability to win.
Did we pass the test? It will be a decision that will take in consideration all the problematics, starting from the participation of head of institutions in the electoral campaign, failure to declare financial resources, low participation as an indicator of institution reliability, and failure of decriminalization.
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