By LLAZAR SEMINI
Both main parties ran on similar platforms, pledging to lift Albania out of poverty and secure its goal of joining the European Union. Election monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe issued preliminary findings saying there were improvements and fewer irregularities in this year's voting, but that some violations such as family voting and the late opening of polling centers persisted.
SMI's head, former Prime Minister Ilir Meta, accepted the invitation, saying it was "the only one in the country's interest."
Full final results are now expected in days, after all disputed ballots are counted.
Based on the partial count, the election commission said 50 percent of Albania's 3.1 million registered voters had cast ballots.