By Eduard Zaloshnja
Although we’re only 18 months away of the mayoral elections in Tirana, the opposition is yet to come up with a candidate for the biggest municipality in the country. While we already know who is the opposition’s candidate for the post of Prime Minister (“shadow PM” Basha), we still don’t know who is the “shadow mayor” of Tirana. However, in all likelihood, he will be a joint candidate of united opposition.
Based on this supposition, in the electronic opinion poll that I conducted (as part of the opinion polls that I have conducted in the recent months for a magazine published here in English), I tested how ErionVeliaj would perform in the race against a joint candidate of united opposition. The respondents were asked to answer to the following question by clicking:
Who would you vote if the local government elections in Tirana were to be held today?
2- A joint candidate of the opposition;
3- I don’t know/I don’t vote
Who did you vote on 25 June 2017?
3- LIBRA/FRD/SFIDA/PDS/PDIU/PSD etc;
4- I did not vote
The poll was conducted in the first days of January, with 2000 respondents from the municipality (a scale of 1/200) to represent the capital’s electorate as good as possible demographically and politically. The margin of error in this opinion poll was +/- 2.1%.
The poll suggested that among the respondents who are determined today to vote one of the two candidates, 55% of them will vote Veliaj while 45% of them will vote the opposition’s candidate . For the sake of comparison, in the 25 June 2017 elections, the Socialist Party (PS) only obtained 51% of the votes in the current territory of the Municipality of Tirana. The number of participants today would be 20 thousand fewer than in June 2017 (from 320 thousand it would go down to 300 thousand). However, Veliaj would obtain around 2 thousand more votes than the Socialist Party obtained last year in the current territory of Tirana .
Around 10 thousand Veliaj’s voters have not voted for the Socialist Party last year. Half of these 10 thousand have voted for one of many other parties in the race, while the other half has not voted at all in last year’s June elections.
By taking into account the opinion poll’s margin of error, it’s clear that Veliaj would be the winner of the elections in the capital, if they were to be held today. And this should alert the opposition, which must not wait until the last months before the elections to decide its candidate for Tirana.
To have a chance to get closer to the 50% figure, the candidate of the united opposition must be nominated as of today. He should fight against Veliaj by offering the public another alternative for the capital. That little criticism that was addressed against Veliaj by the opposition’s councilors in the municipality council or the criticism coming from the opposition on the media, are not enough to bring back in the ballot boxes the 40 thousand right wing voters who abandoned the right wing in the June 2017 elections.
The way things look from the opinion poll, come local government elections (after 18 months), Veliaj may be voted by around 170 thousand residents of the capital. Meanwhile, the three main opposition parties (PD, LSI, PR) were voted last year by only 130 residents of the capital. The 40 thousand vote gap would need a lot of efforts to be filled…
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy