In a joint opinion, adopted after an exchange of views with Albanian President Ilir Meta and with MP Klotilda Bushka, the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) and the OSCE Office for Democratic institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), regret the extremely hasty adoption of the amendments to Albania’s Constitution of 30 July 2020 and to the country’s Electoral Code of 5 October 2020, as well as the lack of wide consultations providing an adequate timeframe among political stakeholders and non-governmental organisations.
The opinion, requested by President Ilir Meta and prepared after extensive online consultations with a wide range of political figures and NGOs, is solely focused on the conformity of the amendments with international standards and, thus, should not be considered as a comprehensive review of the country’s electoral framework.
The Venice Commission and ODIHR urge the Albanian political forces – both in and outside parliament – to ensure the "normal democratic functioning of the institutions" and once again stress the need for restoring the work of the Constitutional Court. While most recommendations should be applied after parliamentary elections scheduled for April next year, several more pressing ones, which would not imply legislative amendments, need to be put into practice before them. Pre-election recommendations urge authorities to have constructive dialogue and to do their utmost to swiftly and transparently carry out electoral law on time. To this effect, the joint opinion recommends proper resourcing of electoral administration. The leaders of the political parties should refrain from standing as candidates in multiple constituencies.
Any amendments to the electoral law should be left until after the parliamentary ballot, the legal experts stress, especially regarding changes to the delimitation of constituencies. The Venice Commission and ODIHR stand ready to assist the Albanian authorities, especially to facilitate implementation of the revised Electoral Code.