The 1 million votes legitimize elections, but…

The 1 million votes legitimize elections, but…
This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and

By Eduard Zaloshnja

19 April is the last deadline for the registration of pre electoral coalitions for the June 18 polls in Albania. But not even a single request to register coalitions was filed at the Central Election Commission. Only a letter was sent by the parliamentary groups of the SP and SMI, where CEC was requested to postpone the deadline for the registration of coalitions and parties, in order to offer more time to political forces to overcome the gridlock caused by the opposition’s tent in front of the Prime Minister’s office. And that letter was followed by another letter sent by the parliamentary group of the Democratic Party, where the contrary was demanded.

Ilir Meta explained from Fier that SMI is more than interested to have the opposition as part of the elections and that the postponement of the deadline for the registration of coalitions and parties would assist majority in finding the necessary communication channels with the opposition, in order for the latter to participate in the elections. But he didn’t explain why SMI didn’t register at the CEC with the current coalition of the Socialist Party’; the registration of this coalition doesn’t prevent the registration of the opposition’ coalition at a later date…

In fact, Meta has made it clear that he will not sign a new agreement  with the Socialist Party if the latter doesn’t make concessions to the DP in order for this party to participate in the elections. But, in spite of the German CDU request, in spite of the request articulated by Mogherini and Hahn and also by the vice German chancellor, Gabriel to participate in the elections, the DP is refusing to participate in them, unless Rama resigns from the post of Prime Minister. On the other hand, Rama insists on not resigning for as long that he has the Parliament’s confidence.

In such circumstances, it would be logical for SMI to register in the current coalition within the legal framework and come out in public as a party that tried until the very last minute for a solution of the political gridlock, but at the end, it respected the electoral code. As far as the legitimization of the elections without the opposition is concerned, the majority would only need to win 1 million votes on 18 June to confirm its legitimacy.

Very few can remember what was the percentage won by the majority coalition in the 2013 elections, but many remember the fact that it won 1 million votes. People have heard so many times about the 1 million “slaps” given to Berisha and the international community too when it is told that the current government has the legitimacy offered by 1 million votes!

An opinion poll that I conducted for Follow Business Albania magazine, suggested that the parties that are currently in majority, would actually receive close to 1 million votes if the elections were to take place in February. And the history of opinion polls ahead of the elections shows that the number of undecided voters decreases as they make up their mind to support the respective camps.

I believe that SMI does actually conduct opinion polls (ahead of the 2013 elections, I have seen two professional opinion polls conducted by two of its consultants) and I believe that its opinion polls actually suggest that the current majority coalition would win 1 million votes.

But it seems that SMI has another problem which relates to its role as a party that determines who becomes Prime Minister. In a scenario where the current majority receives 1 million votes and the elections are accepted as legitimate by the international community (despite the non participation of the opposition), Rama no longer needs the votes of the SMI in Parliament to be Prime Minister for another four years.  In such scenario, SMI would just be an opponent of the government, although it may have 30 seats in Parliament (my opinion poll suggested that SMI would receive around 200 thousand votes).

Under these circumstances, if Meta doesn’t manage, with the help of the negotiators of European People’s Parties to convince Basha and Rama to budge from their current positions, they will soon face a difficult choice: he must either accept SMI’s role as a small opponent party of the government in Parliament or he would have to join the DP to topple Rama’s government before the elections.

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Note: The stances expressed in the Opinion section do not necessarily represent the editorial line of Albanian Free Press

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