Report on Albanian Parliamentary Elections – 2017  

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Note

This report was drawn up by the Directorate-General of the PBDKSH (Party of the Albanian Demochristian Union), a parliamentary political subject who has competed with his list in the political elections of 25 June 2017.

This document is for public domain and can be used by state, political and media institutions to understand some of the dynamics of Albanian parliamentary elections.

The object of the report si to bring light to the events that took place during the recent election campaign, starting with the submission of the lists, following the events that took place on the day of the vote, until the days following the counting of ballot papers.

We would like to emphasize that although this report was drafted by a political party (Albanian Demochristian Union), its editorial staff has made use of the best Albanian resources, respected for intellectual honesty and objectivity.

With this report, we do not want to question Albanian democracy, rather, want to bring more attention to the dynamics of democratic processes in the country, such as political and administrative elections, voting rights and freedom of choice for the elected people.

This paper was published in Albania for the first time in Albanian language on the official website of the Albanian Demochristian Union (www.pdksh.al) Party and is the first time that such an initiative is being carried out. In addition, a copy was sent for appropriate knowledge to the following institutions: Embassy of the United States in Tirana Embassy of the United States in Tirana

Introduction

The Albanian Demochristian Union Party (in Albanian PBDKSH) was founded in 1995. PBDKSH, represents demochristian political philosophy and has as its model the Rule of Law based on the rules and mechanisms of Functional Democracy in full respect of the principle of harmony between religion and state.

PBDKSH, is based on the local roots of communities and on the wealth given by the internal differences of Albania. They are an element that does not create problems of European integration, rather it contributes to the development of the national state which can not survive, choosing the closure abroad, but it must develop according to the fundamental values ​​of the European Community.

Albania has made important contributions to the history of the European continent and today it does not have to stay out of the important political and economic transformation processes in place. However, this evolution must take into account the different national identities and, in spite of the homogenization that has brought us to a single common site called the European Union.

The President of PBDKSH, MP Eduart Ndocaj, is born from a typical Albanian Catholic family. He has made important contributions to the Albanian Catholic community, especially in the areas that are the symbol of this community such as the Mirdita Region, the city of Lezha and the Puka Region.

The PBDKSH, as a political party, is based on respect for the internal democracy that reflects the model of democracy in the nation. In fact, the party acts in full respect of the Albanian Constitution and International Law in force; it acts to represent and protect Albanians wherever they are, irrespective of the religious identity they belong to. PBDKSH is open to all citizens who want to participate in the active and passive politics of the country, who want to contribute in annual forums and also in decision-making governance.

PBDKSH participated in the political elections of 25 June 2017 with the list of 140 candidates across the Albanian territory extended to 12 regions. PBDKSH has only contributed with its list to help revive democracy by offering new opportunities for political participation of citizens, which must be at the center of the political life of the country, not just as spectators but as decision-makers and protagonists.

The Albanian Demochristian Union has competed alone in political elections with the aim of rescuing the “Albanian Demochristian cause”. This goal is a necessity not only for our community, but for the whole Albanian society.

The political model

The PBDKSH founded in 1995 is among the first parties registered after the fall of the communist regime. The party has always maintained its identity by not allied with competing in political coalitions, so never changing its political history.

PBDKSH’s ultimate goal is not to come to power to enjoy the privileges that come from it, but to put it at the service of the citizens and to represent them in the most dignified way possible and above all to bring policy closer to them as a government alternative offer .

In addition, the promise made by PBDKSH in the last elections was to secure the bond between politics and territory. What does this mean? During all these years there has been a very dangerous phenomenon that tries to threaten the representation of citizens, the representation of the territory and the direct link of politics with the territory.

The lack of planned urban development, the presence of emigration both inside and outside the country, the disinterestedness of politics has made many territories, especially in the north of Albania, not to be represented in the democratic system .

Eduart Ndocaj, the president of PBDKSH is also a deputy representing the Lezha Region, so with the situation described, it was decided that the party headquarters should remain in Lezha. For the first time a national party moves its seat from Tirana to a secondary city. This action has had great results since not all citizens have the economic opportunity to make a round trip to Tirana.

In addition, Eduart Ndocaj, as Party President as a deputy in the area, must have continuous contacts with its citizens, so with this move everything works better and improves the representation of citizens by increasing the link between politics and territory.

The composition of the party’s multi-party list during the last election was aimed at the large-scale representation of citizens, including candidates representing less than all the social strata of the country. The candidates on the PBDKSH lists were workers, emigrants, lawyers, entrepreneurs, freelancers and university professors, thus subjects reflecting the social reality of the country.

The political strategy and the electoral campaign

Political strategies are different in both time and space according to the political, social, economic and historical characteristics of a country. Political parties usually choose different strategies and can be distinguished simplistically between those that fail or not. A much more appropriate criterion for assessing policy strategies is their effectiveness, but this criterion is rarely taken into account in the formulation of a political judgment.

Lately, political parties and political parties in Albania only give importance to the strategy if they function in the pursuit of power by forgetting that political actors are and must be important social sites ready to contribute with new models of community success.

The PBDKSH does not claim to have had a winning political strategy in terms of power, but has proved to have developed an effective strategy. Why can you consider it effective? The PBDKSH has directed the election campaign not for the purpose of making a show, not the majesty of promises during meetings, but with direct contacts with all citizens, in any situation and without prejudice to political or social affiliation.

The PBDKSH election campaign was conducted with multiple meetings with citizens in cities, campaigns, neighborhoods, streets and jobs. This is a new, real and modern political model, offered and realized in the last political elections by PBDKSH.

Our political synthesis was born thanks to direct contact with people and not from the great square meetings. What is the difference? Spectacular politics that force masses of people to attend mass meetings in the squares, as we well know from history, have produced dictatorial regimes.

Instead, politics made from direct, spontaneous contacts, with handshakes, produces welfare policies and right mechanisms for a direct and participatory democracy. The PBDKSH with its real, social and direct political strategy has achieved a mission and professionalism that is tangible to everyone and able to reach all social strata.

In this way it is believed that the myth of politics may fall as a privilege of few by the submission of those who are out of the political agony. Bureaucracy today is a phenomenon that has the majority of citizens, so to eliminate it as much as possible, PBDKSH did not like to open electoral offices all over the country as other political parties have been doing for decades but has preferred to make direct contacts by creating appointments ad-hoc and therefore saving a great deal of resources for other initiatives.

The goal of these contacts with the citizens was not simply rhetoric or ideological, but was used to gather feedback by listening to the problems of everyday life and the expectations of the people for the achievement of common well-being.

In the last few years, citizens have been attacked and threatened from the morning to the evening by political speeches, empty controversies, false fights in order to create the conviction of political division and consequently to divide the citizens and the community into false and false opinions of the maintenance of power without a proper representation.

The political language used

PBDKSH has tried and managed to use a simple, understandable language in order to increase the quality of communication, allowing feedback and, above all, allowing the transmission of messages dealing with citizens’ issues. A clear communication helps citizens to look at real and concrete opportunities to bring solutions closer together. Citizens are now tired of the long talk of the politicians and the language used. Often for some, this language seems to be another foreign language. This has happened and happens because, regardless of the intellectual training that politicians possess, they always try to appear as great intellectuals who use foreign words of which they themselves know the meaning.

Solve problems

PBDKSH has made a great service to citizens using the power to solve concrete problems. So PBDKSH did not use clientele of power in the interest of a few, but put it at the service of citizens and their representation. This was a winning strategy because it went in the interest of citizens.

PBDKSH’s President, Eduart Ndocaj, who played a key role in the role of deputy, has consistently raised the voice for the problems and demands of the citizens in order to improve the quality of life of the harshest classes. To accomplish the collected instances, first of all they have been highlighted, and this has been possible thanks to the direct contacts always maintained with people by using modern means of communication such as social networks.

Eduart Ndocaj held a great battle on the miserable conditions of the Lezha Regional Hospital, and brought the discussion to the Minister of Health and the President of the Council through a continuous media complaint. This has forced the national government to improve the Hospital’s services and infrastructure, which is now among the best in Albania.

Many other cases of social and economic discomfort of Albanian families were dealt with by Eduart Ndocaj with personal contributions: making private donations. There are so many charity cases made by Eduart Ndocaj made public to respect the privacy of citizens.

Eduart Ndocaj has brought a new tradition necessary for the Albanian political environment, because with its way of doing broke the silence of power in favor of the good for the citizens. In the Albanian political system and not only is there a non-written rule that no one has to raise the voice against power.

Eduart Ndocaj did not respect him, choosing to be close to the people and to their service. The entire PBDKSH campaign was directed against power and in favor of citizens.
Relations with the media

For political parties and especially for parties, the relationship with television media and journalists is very important because they are a window to communicate to the masses.  In a democratic country, the media must be free and relations with the political parties must be egalitarian irrespective of their size and strength. But what has happened in Albania with most of the television media in the past years? They are tied to politics, some of them for direct interests with power operate unjustly and others for fear are passive and do not do what they need to do: informing the truth spreading and just the truth.

The media situation in Albania is such that it mainly condemns the Opposition parties and especially those who are called small parties. How do you condemn them? They condemn them in two ways:  With censorship. Leaving them in shadow and forgetting, offering them no communication space with citizens to broadcast messages, present ideas, programs, and keep in constant contact with them.  Stick them. This is a well-known scheme now in the media environment because various newspapers and TVs are used by strong powers to attack opponents in an unjust manner.

Unfortunately, the economic situation of so many newspapers and newspapers is almost in bankruptcy and, in order to survive, they try to blackmail political parties by using the power of the fourth power as they are now called.

Many TV and newspapers survive thanks to the publicity that they secure from the central power and the mechanisms it produces through donation channels of dubious origin.

The report of TV and newspapers with political parties during the electoral campaigns has only become a bargaining deal for the purpose of gaining the parties. It seems that everything works thanks to a non-written agreement.

Another problem is given by TVs that have national TV status that should create common and equal spaces for all political parties. But what do they really do? The prejudice of the media towards small parties is unjust and strong, because they start with the idea that great parties remain large and small ones will always be small. This type of classification should not be the task of the media, but should be decided by the sovereign people with the vote.

Consequently, the media are even more serious because they use their visual communication space by directing voters to predefined political choices. So what is the role of the media in these situations? Today’s media are different from those of the totalitarian regime, because freedom is also bought with money, and in the regime you could have it thanks to political power.

What is the difference between yesterday and today? Today political power also has the economic strength available and in these conditions the establishment does not change and has no chance of change. So today’s media are a factor that, in power, hinder democratic processes, elite rotation, and even the rotation of political models. New forms of communication like Facebook are trying to wipe out the censorship and communication barriers conditioned by the central force.

In this situation PBDKSH has decided to use Facebook and Youtube to communicate with the masses. This is the only way to communicate more effectively and less costly.

So for PBDKSH the focus of communication with citizens was via Facebook or Youtube, because this was the only way to communicate without censorship. Now with a click and a Smartphone every citizen can inform you by choosing the information that interests him and he likes it in the light of the truth.

This media report with political parties has created an obstacle to the development of democratic processes and the rotation of power. Therefore, the changes in the Electoral Code are important with regard to media relations and political parties during the electoral campaign.

It must ensure the same space for everyone in the communication between the political parties that decide to participate in the political elections, only in this way there may be equal opportunities in an electoral race.

Moreover, being a fact that in Albania who owns political power automatically owns economic power, state funds for political opposition parties participating in political elections must be greater.

There is currently no fair competition because small parties (judged as such and therefore can never become large) have a government fund for participation in the three-thousand-euro election and the price to attend a news broadcast to a national TV is about three thousand euro. Instead, the situation for larger parties is different, the fund made available by the government exceeds fifty thousand euro. This system is not just a democracy that provides equal opportunity mechanisms, rather it moves the system towards an economic / political power oligarchy and creates a monopoly in communication with the masses.

Manipulation of the elections

One of the most important battles for PBDKSH was the battle to defend the citizens’ vote and protect the free political will expressed through the vote. For the cause of free elections PBDKSH decided to align with the Opposition that had closed under a tent in front of the Council of Ministers building. But what really happened in these elections? Indeed, no progress has been made in this direction because family poverty and the use of employment through power have made the citizen a hostage to the mechanisms that manipulate the freedom of voting.

The elections were held in a rough race between two political party leaders in the coalition government, practically between the Socialist Party and the Socialist Movement for Integration Party. This crash between two titans has not helped protect the citizens’ freedom of vote but has replicated the well-known practice in the previous elections in Albania: the sale of the vote.

For Western democracies who do not imagine what it is like, the explanation is simple: the candidates for the office of deputy go to electoral colleges and want the vote of the citizens, so they offer them a sum of money. So in Albania, the vote of the citizen has no political value of preference but a price in money.

The race between the Socialist Party and the Socialist Movement for Integration has raised the price of the vote by 100%. If at first it cost twenty euro, in the last elections the price of voting in some areas of northern Albania such as Lezha, Dibra, Kukes and Shkodër cost 200 euro and in some cases the price was also 300 euro one vote .

In the 2013 parliamentary elections, a vote cost an average price of 20 euro at national level, but in the last parliamentary elections the average price of voting at the national level was 100 euro. Faced with such a situation, the PBDKSH, PD (Democratic Party) and other Opposition parties who respected the Electoral Code, the Constitution and the free political will of the citizens could not do anything and consequently lost the elections, not for democratic issues .

There has been a great pressure on citizens by offering jobs to those in the public administration. All those who had a job in the public administration were obliged by the majority parties to vote in a certain way, under the blackmail of dismissal.

Employment continues to be a topic that is diverting the will of the citizens. In a state of high tension in the Albanian society, built especially from the political system, citizens live together with fear and are not able to freely decide their political representation, undermining democratic processes and leaving room for a political oligarchy that controls every part of the society.

Political impartiality of the electoral process

The electoral procedure and the vote count after the elections continue to be politicized and is under the control of the political power of the moment.

The depolitization of the election process and its management was another disappointing policy of 25 June 2017. Although formally measures have been taken to minimize the involvement of public policy politicized in the electoral process, power machinery with all its strength has started to work on election day, and in particular in voting counting centers and electoral commissions.

In order to confirm this, we take as an example two important counting centers in the city of Lezha, where the prefect in person, vice mayor, general manager and former ministers were present there and took control of the electoral process until the announcement of the final result .

This way of acting from parties who hold political power over the territory has diminished Opposition parties. The politicization of the electoral process creates unequal conditions between political parties, seriously threatening the democratic process and at the same time risks drifting the credibility of state institutions.

The incrimination of the electoral process

The process of decriminalization of state institutions must accompany the full decriminalization of politics and every source of power. What happened in the last elections? People with serious criminal record in co-operation with central political power or with segments resulting from it have exerted pressure on citizens, creating fear in order to divert the final outcome of the election.

People with criminal records have played an important role in the electoral process. Some of them had personal interests because they had relatives in lists as candidates for office as a deputy.

People with these features had free access to the vote counting environment, and some of them had – against the law – also the membership status of counting commissions. The counting process must be independent and must be carried out by citizens and free professionals who are not part of any political party or political party. This is the only way to achieve free elections in Albania.

Otherwise they will never be free because the process is managed and monitored by central power in collaboration with the world of crime.

The vote of the emigrants

Another failure in the last election was the exclusion of the right of vote of all Albanians living abroad. Unfortunately, Albania is the only country that has not applied the right to vote for its citizens living abroad. We must point out that voting rights for citizens living abroad are a right guaranteed by the Albanian Constitution but also by International Law in force as an “erga omnes” rule.

More than half of citizens with the right to vote (according to the Albanian constitution, who are 18 years old even on election day, have the right to vote and vote) live abroad for issues of economic emigration, study reasons or are part of the service diplomat of the country.

The lack of political will to take measures and measures to enforce the right to vote for this part of the population creates conditions for partial political representation, thus making a non-inclusive democratic process. More than half the population will not have their representation because they could not vote.

The PBDKSH has done its utmost to enforce the right to vote for citizens living abroad, but it has not had any good results because the full will of the government and other majority parties is lacking.

Electronic voting Political parties in Albania must seriously think about protecting the vote of the citizens and excluding any possibility of deviating the vote against the free political will. The most effective way to achieve this according to Albanian political scientists and international experts in this field is electronic voting. Political parties in collaboration with the US, the EU and the OSCE must work hard to apply electronic voting in the upcoming elections.

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