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Albania: top 2 parties neck-and-neck in vote count

Albania: top 2 parties neck-and-neck in vote count

Partial results from Albania's weekend parliamentary elections indicate the governing Democrats and opposition Socialists are nearly tied, officials said Tuesday.
Sunday's ballot was seen as a crucial test for the Balkan country's ambitions to join the European Union _ and both the Socialists and the Democrats had pledged to bring Albania into the bloc and lift the country out of poverty.
With 84.5 percent of ballot boxes counted, Prime Minister Sali Berisha's Democratic Party was narrowly leading with 46.53 percent to the Socialist Party's 45.69 percent. The partial results also gave the small SAI leftist coalition 5.59 percent, election officials said.
It was still unclear if one of the parties would win a parliamentary majority of 71 seats to form a government on its own.
The SAI leadership has said it is willing to join a coalition with Socialists.
Ballot counting was expected to finish Tuesday with results announced Thursday, after officials calculate how Parliament's 140 seats will be allocated, Central Election Commission spokesman Leonard Olli said.
Socialist leader and Tirana Mayor Edi Rama accused the Democrats of trying to "block counting in those areas where it is clear and obvious that we are winning."
Berisha denied any impropriety and urged election officials to enforce the law.
Based on the partial count, the election commission said about 42 percent of Albania's 3.1 million registered voters had cast ballots on Sunday. The two main parties said they expected the final turnout figure to be higher.
Albania was under intense international pressure to make sure the vote was fair and free of the reports of fraud that have marred the six previous polls since communism ended in 1990. Albania became a NATO member on April 1 and is seeking to join the 27-nation EU.
Election monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said that while there were fewer irregularities this year, there were still "procedural violations related in particular to inking procedures and widespread family voting."
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said Monday that further improvement was needed.


Updated : 2020-12-03 13:13 GMT+08:00