The people of Albania are to vote on Sunday (23 June) in an election seen as an important test of the country’s ambitions to join the European Union. The vote will come four days before an EU summit at which national leaders are expected to give the go-ahead for Serbia and Kosovo to advance to the next stages of their attempts to join the EU. Those votes of confidence will contrast with the slow progress that Albania has made since it applied for membership in 2009. At the start of the election campaign, the European Commission criticised the Albanian government for planning to call a referendum to push through reforms demanded by the EU.
Štefan Füle, the European commissioner for enlargement, said that a referendum should not be “a way to bypass the lack of dialogue and constructive co-operation between the government and opposition on the EU agenda”.
The government backed down from its referendum plan, but the incident showed how highly polarised the political system is. It has long been dominated by two parties of roughly equal power headed by bitter rivals, Prime Minister Sali Berisha and opposition leader Edi Rama.
Recent opinion polls suggest that Rama has a lead of around seven percentage points, with his SPA securing the backing of just over 50% of the electorate.
However, projections are complicated by a two-tier electoral system that allocates seats proportionally at a national and regional level.
Full Article: Albanian elections will test EU ambitions | European Voice.