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Press Release - First Interim report on Local Election of June 21, 2015

Pre-electoral Campaign Conducted in Generally Peaceful and Orderly Manner

[Tiranë, June 10, 2015]. Today, the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections and Sustainable Democracy (CFFESD) presented the Interim Report on the June 21 2015 Elections for Local Government Units. The report contains the findings based on the two - week analysis of the data collected by the CFFESD ninety (90) long-term observers (LTO) stationed at the ninety (90) Electoral Administration Zonal Commissions (CEAZs) throughout Albania. Our impartial and trained observers conducted observation based on a detailed questionnaire and provided important information on the two - week period starting with the official launch of the electoral campaign on 22 May 2015 and concluding with 6 June 2015. Our LTOs continue working on the ground and will be observing campaign developments until the Election Day.

Administration of Elections

• Eleven out of ninety (90) CEAZ headquarters were established in facilities used by the public administration, other than healthcare, educational and cultural ones, which is contrary to the Electoral Code;
• Almost all commissioners are employed full time, which prevents them from dedicating enough time to their duties in CEAZs, thus causing delays in almost all CEAZs operations.
• In twenty five (25) CEAZs it is a common practice among commissioners to hold meetings with phone calls or in premises outside the CEAZs;
• Regardless of the fact that the Electoral Code dictates that CEAZ meetings are public, in the majority of CEAZs, persons that are not accredited by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) were allowed to attend only after citing the Electoral Code on the fact that CEAZ meetings are public;
• The commissioners, who are appointed by political parties, are replaced frequently.
• CFFESD expresses its concern that frequent replacements result in a considerable number of commissioners without appropriate training. CFFESD notes that on June 4th, the CEC has received requests for replacements of commissioners although the last training was conducted on June 3rd.
• Thirty out of ninety (90) of CEAZs have problems with the supply of basic materials (documentation forms needed for their regular work, paper, printer ink, fuel, telephones), while 26 CEAZs have not yet received the necessary budget for covering the activity costs;
• In total, over half of CEAZs, 46 of them, have, at least, one deficiency of basic materials, budget or ability of members to understand and perform the assigned duties as identified by members themselves.
• In the majority of the aforementioned cases the commissioners try to cover deficiencies in basic materials and budget by personally covering costs and resources;
• The Socialist Party (SP) and the Democratic Party (DP) observed the gender quota in CEAZs at about 30% as required by the law.
• In CEAZs' managerial positions, we have only 14 women appointed as CEAZ chairpersons, 19 deputy chairpersons and 22 CEAZ secretaries;
• In thirty-six (36) EAZs, the last deadline for the establishment of the Voting Centre Commissions (VCC), which was dated June 1, 2015, was violated;
• In twenty-eight (28) CEAZs, the electoral subjects delayed submitting the lists with candidates for local commissioners. The reasons quoted are mainly missing documentation in the submitted lists or it was deemed necessary to replace a number of commissioners who did not meet the criteria. In eleven (11) CEAZs, which have the biggest number of VCCs are located in non – functional facilities, private premises and are listed with the wrong addresses.

Electoral Campaign

• According to the Electoral Code, the campaign should start on May 22, 2015.
• CFFESD observers noted that the SP, DP and the Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI) violated this requirement as they had started the campaign before the specified date, by conducting party leaders' electoral tours in main cities;
• CFFESD observers noted that campaign so far has been conducted in a calm and orderly manner;
• Another characteristic of the campaign is that political party promises more correspond to the parliamentary rather than local elections;
• This campaign has focused more on the candidates for mayors and it seems as it has almost been forgotten that during these elections citizens also vote for the municipality council, i.e. local parliaments. These are the institutions where all important decisions for the development of the respective municipality are taken, and where development policies and programs, budgets are approved. Citizens have very little information, if any, on who these candidates are, what their experience is like and what contribution they have given to their community. Candidates for councilors are rarely seen or promoted during rallies and meetings organized by mayoral candidates and their respective parties;
• During these elections, insufficient attention has been paid to the Roma and Egyptian community. Their lack of registration in the civil status offices deprives them from their right to vote and our observers have not reported any electoral activity by the candidates for mayors in areas populated by this community;
• In comparison to previous elections, there is an increase in the use of social media and websites by candidates and their respective parties;
• CFFESD observers claim that there are few alleged instances noted of political parties putting pressure on the administration, central or local, to become part of electoral activities during the election campaign.

Public Institutions and Use of Public Resources in Pre-electoral Campaign

• CFFESD observers obtained information from interlocutors about five alleged cases of pressure on public administration staff, students or employees of state-owned companies to participate in rallies and election activities;
• In ten1 cases, the employees of central or local public administration units and agencies have supported candidates/political parties during working hours, which CFFESD finds concerning.
• Furthermore, our observer at the CEAZ Nr. 67 (Pogradec Municipality) has seen employees of the state institutions and local government leaving the workplace during the official working hours towards the electoral offices of political parties.

CFFESD also expects the prosecutor's office to complete swiftly investigations related to cases of the transfer of voters to Durres and Kavaja, which, if proven to be true, would seriously undermine the credibility of the electoral process in Albania. CFFESD strongly calls the authorities to investigate the above mentioned cases and punish those who abused it.

CFFESD will publish its next interim report on pre-election day observation on June 19th 2015.

The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections and Sustainable Democracy (CFFESD) is an independent, non-partisan organization to promote civic participation in elections and in securing sustainable democracy. CFFESD focuses on issues that influence the upholding of human rights, gender equality and the rights of people with disabilities. CFFESD as of June
6, 2015 consists of 30 partner organizations and hundreds of Albanian citizens who volunteer their time to CFFESD's efforts for the Local Elections of June 21, 2015.This project on local election observation is supported by Assist Impact through funding provided by USAID and with the technical assistance from the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

More details and findings can be found on the website at www.kzln.org.al

For more information, please contact:

Mirela Arqimandriti, Election Observation Team Leader
Erjona Mulellari, Executive Director, CFFESD Dhimitër Gjidede, Long Term Observers Coordinator Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Cel: 068 20 59 301
Website: www.kzln.org.al
Facebook: Koalicioni për Zgjedhje të Lira e të Ndershme
Twitter: KZLN_CFFE_Albania

1CEAZ no. 36, 39, 44, 62, 63, 67, 81, 82, 83, 84.