ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL: Electoral systems and gender quota in Albania
Different electoral systems present various challenges to women representation in elections, i.e. their ability to compete in elections and be elected. With the most recent attempt in Albania to start an electoral reform and potentially change the electoral system, a thorough understanding of electoral rules and the way they affect women representation is needed. While the current gender quotas enforcement took two election cycles to consolidate, a potential change in the electoral system will present new challenges. Moreover, previous reforms often neglected gender quotas: It took organizations dealing with gender issues much effort to have them adopted in Parliament. Furthermore, even if the electoral system is not changed, the current gender quota provisions should be improved and consolidated. This reform is an opportunity to make elections in Albania more gender-fair.
Since 2008, Albania has applied a Regional Proportional with closed Lists (RPcL, or "closed lists" in the following) electoral system for the parliamentary elections and the municipal council elections. Only mayors are currently elected through a Majority Vote in Albania. Many parties' representatives and other stakeholders currently advocate for changes in the electoral system: some propose a Regional Proportional with open Lists (RPoL, or "open lists" in the following) system, others propose an electoral system that mixes regional and national election rules. So far, the real choice seems to be between a new open lists system and the status quo of closed lists.
This policy brief proposes and analyses the adequate gender quota mechanisms for both of these scenarios: (1) preserving the status quo of closed lists, or (2) moving to open lists. For the first scenario, the paper proposes the equalizing of candidate quota provisions and penalties for parliamentary and municipal elections, thus the stipulation in the Electoral Code of a 50% candidate quota and the enforcement of list refusal for non-compliance. For the second scenario, the paper proposes that in addition to the existing quota – which is not enough to guarantee women representation if open lists are applied – Albania should implement a reserved seats quota of 30%. Beyond these scenarios, a model that would be more effective in the long-term, regardless of the electoral system, is the application of voluntary quotas in parties' internal statutes. This, however, is not yet a practice in Albanian political parties' internal policies.
i) This is a consistent pattern of neglect of issues regarding gender provisions from political parties and the Parliament. Intensive advocacy was needed both in 2012 and in April 2015 for the existing quota provisions to be adopted.
Draft suggestions on the electoral reform in Albania regarding election management bodies (EMBS)
For over more than two decades, Albania has applied a multiparty management model of elections, where the balanced party affiliation of members of the Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) is considered as a necessary condition to guarantee fairness and transparency of the electoral process. Meanwhile, the model itself has contributed to the monopolization of elections by political parties. For this reason, de-politicization of the electoral administration has already become a prerequisite for the conduct of free and fair elections, and practically constitutes the number one recommendation of the reports produced by relevant local and international observers of elections in Albania.
Consequently, the current electoral reform should address this problem and guarantee the independence of the election administration. According to the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections and for Sustainable Democracy (CFFE), the model of election administration should be adjusted following six principles: 1) de-politicization that entirely removes political parties from election management does not form a model of compromise; 2) the Ad Hoc Committee on Electoral Reform should be primarily responsive to the public interest; 3) the administration of elections is strengthened if the hierarchical relation of the election administration is strengthened, and if its responsibilities, control and accountability are clearly identified, legally and not politically; 4) the modernization of the electoral process and the introduction of technology should be treated primarily as positive objectives, as long as they are not regarded as the solution to all problems; 5) the discussion on the use of technology can not pursue political interests; 6) the electoral reform should also elaborate the legal, organizational and administrative measures to be adopted if the introduction of technology in the next elections fails.
The main pillars where the electoral reform should focus are:
Koalicioni për Zgjedhje të Lira e të Ndershme dhe për Demokraci të Qendrueshme parashtron sugjerimet për reformën zgjedhore: nevoja për rritjen e pavarësisë së organeve të administrimit zgjedhor
Tiranë, 20 Shtator 2016 Koalicioni për Zgjedhje të Lira e të Ndershme dhe për Demokraci të Qendrueshme (KZLN) organizoi sot tryezën e rrumbullakët me temë "Pavarësia e Organeve të Administratës Zgjedhore në Shqipëri", në kuadër të projektit "Dhoma Zgjedhore për Reformën Zgjedhore".
Në këtë event, që hapi dhe siparin e tryezave të organizuara në kuadër të projektit të Dhomës së Situatës Zgjedhore, u prezantuan sugjerimet kryesore të KZLN në lidhje me rritjen e profesionalizmit dhe depolitizimin e organeve të administrimit zgjedhor. Depolitizimi i administratës zgjedhore dhe ngritja e komisioneve jopartizane, përbën dhe rekomandimin e parë të raportit të OSCE/ODIHR mbi Zgjedhjet Vendore 2015.
- The Comprehensive Reform a Necessity The Electoral Administration should be freed from the Influence of the Political Parties
- The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections and Sustainable Democracy calls on Members of Parliament to vote in favor of the Justice System Reform
- CFFE Press Statement in the framework of the Election Situation Room “The Election Room for the Electoral Reform”
- STATEMENT - ”The Electoral Reform serving the Aim of Free and Fair Elections”