After two months of legal wrangling, Albania’s Electoral College has rejected the last opposition appeal challenging the razor-thin victory of the ruling party candidate in the disputed Tirana race.
|Lulzim Basha \ Photo courtesy of Democratic Party|
The court specializing in election disputes on Friday rejected the fifth Socialist appeal over the race for the Tirana mayoralty in the May 8 local elections.
With four votes in favour and two against, the Central Electoral Commission on May 25 had declared for the second time in as many months that Lulzim Basha would be the capital's next mayor with a 93 vote advantage out of a quarter-million.
The Tirana poll was considered the key battleground of the May 8 local elections, pitting Basha - candidate of the centre-right government of Sali Berisha - against the opposition Socialist leader and incumbent Tirana mayor, Edi Rama.
The Socialists had appealed the CEC ruling, pointing to problems in several ballots boxes where security codes were different from those registered by counting centres, or where paper ballots were found outside the various envelopes inside the ballot box.
The CEC refused to hear the appeal on grounds that it had been lodged beyond the legal time limit.
Friday’s Electoral College ruling validated the CEC decision, dashing the hopes of the Socialists of a repeat poll.
The May 8 local elections were considered as key for the country’s EU future, following a two-year political crisis that has stopped the reform process dead in its tracks.
However, after a peaceful and quiet election day, the row over the miscast ballots has heightened the political climate once again, adding to Brussels’ doubts over the country’s EU future.