Albania’s parliament voted for a new president without casting a single ballot on Wednesday, convening and then closing the first of five election rounds in less than 10 minutes because no candidate came forward to run. The bizarre non-election went ahead despite a boycott by the opposition Democratic Party, which quit parliament two months ago and has since insisted Tirana first needs to name a technocratic government. To ensure that the ceremonial figure of president is a compromise figure, the constitution requires a candidate to get three-fifths of the vote to win in the first three rounds. If no candidate wins, the rules then say a simple majority will do to pick the new head of state.
The other parties in parliament decided to go ahead with the empty vote as a way to respect this approach and pressure the Democrats to return and make it a real election.
“No candidates have been presented to parliament,” Vasilika Hysi, head of parliament’s legal committee, announced to the chamber. “Even without a candidate, the first round is considered to have been held,” added speaker Ilir Meta.