Local elections and the 1 million disappointed voters-Opinion by Eduard Zaloshnja

Local elections and the 1 million disappointed voters-Opinion by Eduard Zaloshnja
By Eduard Zaloshnja

An opinion poll conducted by an Italian company and published by a TV network in Tirana suggested that Albanian voters are divided into two major groups: 47% of the people of this country who are eligible to vote (around 1 million) do not trust any of the main politicians in the country, while 53% (around 1.1 million) believe in at least one of the main political figures (Rama, Berisha, Basha ,Meta, Kryemadhi). The second group which accounts for 3/5 of the population (around 660 thousand) have faith on Rama and 2/5 of them (around 440 thousand) believe in at least one of the opposition figures.

What do these figures tell us about the local government elections?

The Democratic Party and Socialist Movement for Integration Party have not submitted the list of their commissioners for the June 30 local elections, issuing a clear signal that they do not intend to participate in them. On the other hand, the Socialist Party seems fully mobilized for the local elections. This party has selected all the candidates and submitted all the commissioners’ lists. Meanwhile, the international community has appealed for the local elections to go ahead as planned, implying that they will recognize the elections even if the opposition decides to boycott them.

Given that only 440 thousand voters have faith on the main opposition figures, only a small part of the 2.1 million people eligible to vote may agree to boycott local government elections, while the 660 thousand voters who believe in Rama would be ready to vote at anytime.

What would happen with the 1 million voters who do not believe in any of the main Albanian politicians?

In the last local government elections, we saw several independent candidates or candidates belonging to small political parties, who were not part of a coalition with big parties. The number of votes obtained by them was insignificant compared to the number of votes that candidates belonging to big parties obtained. In Tirana, the two main candidates obtained 280 thousand votes–160 thousand were obtained by one of them and 120 thousand were obtained by the other–while independent candidates could only manage to obtain 20 thousand votes. However, there were 100 thousand voters from Tirana who did not turn out in the voting, while 120 thousand others voted in favour of Halim Kosova and the reason for this is that they believed that their vote would be wasted if it went for the independent candidates. Everyone knew that the real race would take place between the two main candidates, Veliaj and Kosova.

This could also be the case in other municipalities in the country.

If the opposition goes ahead with the boycott and the international community recognizes the elections without the opposition’s participation in it, then there’s room for independent candidates who could aim for the votes of the 1 million disappointed voters.

In order for the offer made to these disappointed voters to enjoy some level of credibility, independent candidates need to criticize everything that has gone wrong in their local boroughs. What’s more, they need to show that their criticism has been consistent even before they entered the race. It’s very easy for disappointed voters to identify demagogues.

If we only have socialist and independent candidates in this race, then the latter have a bigger chance of winning. If independent candidates win the trust of disappointed voters, these voters could decide to head to polling stations believing that their vote would not be wasted like it could have happened four years ago.