The Venice Commission: the adoption of the new Electoral Code “was extremely hasty”

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 2, 2020 11:37

The Venice Commission: the adoption of the new Electoral Code “was extremely hasty”

The publication of the restricted-draft from the Venice Commission regarding its opinion on the Electoral Code implementation, made it clear that the Commission was quite critic about the whole process, considering the procedure as “extremely hasty”, adding that it that took place without the consultation of all the interested sides. The draft reserved some harsh tones against the government, stating that the Commission “cannot but regret once again that the constitutional amendments went against the most basic rules of democratic law-making”, suggesting that meaningful exchange of positions between the majority and the opposition is also essential for a democracy governed by the rule of law. The Venice Commission and ODIHR urged also the restoration of the Constitutional Court as quickly as possible.

The Commission made a list of recommendations to be followed before the April 2021 parliamentary elections:

a) That all authorities enter into a constructive dialogue and do their utmost to implement the electoral law on time; they should start as soon as possible, and in a transparent manner, to clarify the impact of the amendments, and the electoral administration should be provided with sufficient means to implement them; b) To avoid any further amendments of the electoral legislation before the next parliamentary elections; in particular, the delimitation of constituencies should not be changed; c) That leaders of political parties refrain from being candidates in multiple constituencies; d) To clarify the impact of the amendments relating to coalitions for Article 96 of the Constitution on the appointment of Prime Minister.

The Venice Commission and ODIHR filled also a list of recommendation for the period after the 2021 parliamentary elections:a) To abolish the possibility for leaders of political parties to compete in several
constituencies; b) To respect equal rights for all parties in a coalition to appeal actions and decisions of the coalition; c) To introduce the possibility for individual candidates to submit complaints and appeals against the allocation of seats inside a list; d) To clarify the definition of the threshold for local elections in the sense that it applies at the municipality level, if necessary through a by-law; e) To revise Article 67(4) of the Electoral Code in order to reduce the minimum number of candidates to appear on a list;
f) To consider making an exception to the 1 % national threshold for national minorities; g) To continue addressing outstanding ODIHR election-related recommendations.

The Venice Commission draft came after the President of Albania, Ilir Meta, requested an urgent opinion on the electoral amendments of 30 July and 5 October 2020. Even before the implementation of the new Electoral Code, members of the European People’s Party Group at the European Parliament, had appealed to the Prime Minister Edi Rama to refrain from voting the amendments prior to the opinion of the Venice Commission. The draft comes also in a time when the EU has made it clear that it won’t open membership talks with Albania yet, citing the Electoral Code one-sided implementation and the need of a functional Constitutional Court as
argumentation for its decision.

The draft drove immediate reaction by all the political spectrum. Dorian Teliti, chief of staff at the Democratic Party, talking for the Albanian media said that “the Venice Commission said no to Edi Rama and his ant constitutional activity. We had anticipated the Commission reaction,
because as we have said, every moves that Rama makes, by changing the rules after the game has already started, is totally unacceptable.”
At the other hand, the head of the Socialist Parliamentary group Taulant Balla reacted through the social networks, saying that restricted draft was being misused by the opposition and that they will avoid making further comments to respect the confidentiality of the document. Considering that the document is now already public and accessible to all, Balla’s status can be read more as a need to take some more time to elaborate the majority response to the critics which were addressed to them by the draft.

The Venice Commission and ODIHR concluded by asking the Albanian political forces to find the dialogue as soon as possible, in the interest of the Albanian people.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 2, 2020 11:37