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Albania

Ang mga boto ng Albania sa halalan sa gitna ng malalim na paghahati sa politika

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A deep political split in the Balkan country is expected to deliver a neck-and-neck election between the ruling party and the opposition coalition. The Balkan country with a population of 2.8 million has some 3.6 million voters due to its large diaspora. Albanians headed to the polls in parliamentary elections on Sunday following a bitter campaign and violence between rival supporters

Some 3.6 million eligible voters, including Albanians overseas, will elect 140 lawmakers among some 1,800 candidates. 

Voters have expressed frustration with the politics and economy of the country, which is hoping to launch full membership talks with the EU later this year.  

Sunday’s polls are expected to be neck-and-neck between the ruling Socialists and the opposition. The vote is being closely watched by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Western embassies.

Prime Minister Edi Rama has been in power for eight years.

Sino ang tumatakbo?  

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama is seeking a third term for his Socialist Party (PS). His campaign centered around promises of turning Albania into a “champion” in tourism, energy, agriculture and digital projects. 

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Rama’s main contender is Lulzim Basha of the opposition Democratic Party (PD), who is seeking a return to power eight years after losing an election. 

Twelve other parties have united in a coalition behind Basha, who has accused the government of corruption and links to organized crime.

The PD is pledging lower taxes, higher salaries and more social financial support.

Pre-election opinion polls showed the PS likely to place first.

Lulzim Basha, a 46-year-old lawyer and former mayor of Tirana, has held previous government posts

What is expected from the winning party? 

Despite their division, all parties have vowed to deliver the needed reforms for Albania to fulfill its goal of joining the EU.

The bloc agreed to open membership talks last year, but is yet to set a date for the first meeting.  

In 2014, Tirana was granted EU candidate status. Still, there has been little progress due to the coronavirus pandemic and lack of reforms within the country. 

The new government will also face the challenge of dealing with the pandemic and rebuilding homes after a 2019 earthquake that killed 51 people and damaged more than 11,400 properties. 

What about the pre-election tensions?  

The Balkan country is deeply divided, with rival political parties exchanging fiery remarks during a bitter election campaign. 

On Wednesday, a shooting that was linked to party activists left one person dead and four injured. 

Ang insidente drew criticism from the US Embassy, which urged the the country’s main political leaders to “exercise restraint” and “to clearly reject violence” before the election.

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