Albania Holds 10th Parliamentary Election After Fall of Communist Government

Voters in Albania cast ballots in parliamentary elections on Sunday after a bitter campaign by the two main political parties amid the coronavirus pandemic.More than 1,800 candidates who represent 12 political parties as well as electoral coalitions and independents, were competing for the 140 seats parliament.Prime Minister Edi Rama’s Socialist Party is seeking a third term while the opposition Democratic Party of Lulzim Basha is seeking a return to power.  The vote at about 5,200 polling stations was being watched closely by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe, and many embassies in Albania.“We hope that every Albanian citizen goes and votes, free of fear, free of interference,” U.S. Ambassador Yuri Kim said at a polling station in the northern city of Shkodra. “This is your day,” Kim said.Albanian President Ilir Meta, who cast his ballot shortly after voting began, called on his people to go out and vote not only to exercise their constitutional right, but also to do so as a patriotic act.“The whole world has its eyes on Albania,” Meta said, adding, “Only the good progress of this process means that the Europe Union will open the road for Albania’s membership.”Although in a politicly neutral role as president, Meta has recently accused the Rama government of concentrating the legislative, administrative and judicial powers in his hands, while running a “kleptocratic regime” that has delayed Albania’s membership in EU.The results are not expected until Tuesday.