The former chief justice of the Constitutional Court, former MP, Fehmi Abdiu, analyzes in an interview for Albanian Free Press what could happen if the Electoral College decides to grant or reject the motion filed by the party led by Agron Duka. How can the election date be changed and should legal provisions be amended? Why do we find ourselves in front of an absurd situation where it’s easier to amend the Constitution than the Electoral Code?
How do you consider the motion filed by the Agrarian Environmentalist Party (PAA) at the Electoral College demanding the list of candidates for the upcoming elections to be declared invalid?
I think that one of the reasons or the reasons why opposition parties have taken this step has to do with the fact that they are determined to do everything in order for the June 18 elections not to be held, or if they are held, to have legal flaws, which could invalidate them.
I think that we have to deal with a scenario of the opposition, a scenario which has started to be implemented quietly since the very beginning and is being exploited in the recent days to file an appeal against the CEC decision.
In essence, the motion is based on a claim that the deadline for the registration of the candidates expired on the midnight of April 28 and not on 29…
I don’t think it would be good if I offer my opinion on this, because I may influence on the court deliberating this issue. My concern relates to the fact that the Electoral College must deliberate this issue as soon as possible, because this cannot wait for weeks or months to be deliberated. We’re in a very delicate and difficult situation, both legally and politically.
Nonetheless, do you think that it may politically lead to a solution of the political crisis?
Besides the motion to make the candidate lists void and as a result, not hold elections, another alternative is for opposition parties to change their position and seek a modus, a legal cause which would legitimize their return in the electoral process.
The motion filed by PAA was strongly supported by the leader of the Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha… Is the history of the elections in Kavaja being repeated?
The motion to the Electoral College may have been filed for one of these two reasons: To delegitimize elections or postpone them in order for them to be held in normal circumstances.
I have the impression that there are two scenarios: The scenario of making the process irregular and secondly, to offer the opposition an opportunity to return to the electoral process on a later date.
What is the line that stands between political declarations and law violations?
I think that there is no legal obstacle for the Democratic Party to be expressed in legal terms in front of its voters and ask them not to participate in the elections. But the messages that the leader of the Democratic Party has launched saying that this party will not allow the holding of the elections, is something which goes against the Criminal Code.
On the other hand, the extremist declarations launched by its chairman, especially against the forums and institutions which are legally obliged to be involved in this process, such as the Central Election Commission, have been denigrating and insulting for the institution and its chairman. The threats launched by the leader of the party against the Electoral College that if it rejects the opposition’s motion, then it will have to deal with the people, are also against the law.
But, the majority and Prime Minister Rama have also attacked the Justice system in a number of cases…
This is another problem for which I have praised the fact that the majority has insisted on conducting a reform in Justice. In many cases, I have also pointed out the fact that the majority has launched denigrating messages against the Justice system in general. Such declarations, especially coming from the Prime Minister, have a negative effect on the relations between Albanian citizens and the Justice system. Imagine the negative impact that it may have when thousands of people go to court and prosecutor’s office on a daily basis, while a day or two before they have heard the main political figures of the country say that the Justice system is totally corrupt, rotten, irresponsible and things like this.
Let us go back once again on the issue case expected to be deliberated by the Electoral College. What happens if it rejects the motion?
As a rule, the decision of the Electoral College is final and there’s no right of appeal. Such decision by the Electoral College would settle this, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the opposition addresses the Constitutional Court.
What if the motion is granted?
If the Electoral College grants the motion of the Agrarian Environmentalist Party and invalidates the candidate lists, then institutions must take the necessary measures to restore normality and decide on another election date, to file the candidate lists at a suitable time, to start another electoral campaign and so on.
How would they go about to decide on a new date?
Given that the date decreed by the President is invalidated, then the elections should be annulled by the CEC, as it happened in Kavaja and then the President must decree another date or Parliament should convene. Parliament may vote several legal provisions for this campaign.
It would be best to make amendments in the Electoral Code by inviting the opposition, but no amendments in the Electoral Code can be made 6 months prior to the elections. If these amendments are made to the Code, then the elections would have to be postponed more than six months in order for the amendments to be legally valid. As far as the constitutional amendments are concerned, there’s no obstacle of this kind and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be made.
It looks as if these amendments in the Electoral Code are impossible, if we don’t want the elections to be postponed for a long period of time…
They are impossible, but Albania has done it before.
Then, the Constitution should be amended in order to allow the amendment of the Electoral Code before the six month deadline. It seems that we have come to an absurd point where it is easier to amend the Constitution than the Electoral Code…
If we take a look at the political, legal and institutional situations that we’ve had in the past and the solutions that we have given, we will see that there are violations in all institutions. There are violations of mandates, violations in electoral campaigns and all sorts of other violations. However, people are happy. Everything seems normal. We have come to a point where legal violations have turned into something normal, while the application of the laws has become an exception.