Ruling Socialists Defeat Divided Opposition in Albanian Local Polls
The Socialist Party led by Prime Minister Edi Rama is ahead in most municipalities in the country after Sunday's local elections and has already won three, Kamza, Vora and Elbasan, where the voting took place electronically and the Central Election Commission was able to declare the results a few hours after polls closed.
Albanians voted in 61 municipalities including the capital city Tirana, where the Socialists are also ahead, according to the CEC.
According to preliminary data, the turnout at the local elections was 35 per cent, the worst so far. At the last elections in 2021 the turnout was 47 per cent.
In Tirana, where votes from 534 out of 941 ballot boxes have been counted, Socialist candidate Erion Veliaj has won 54.35. of the vote so far and the opposition candidate Belind Kellici 34.90 per cent.
In the city of Shkodra, a traditional Democratic Party stronghold, votes from 208 out of 247 ballot boxes have been counted and Socialist candidate Benet Beci has 60.25 per cent to 39.75 per cent for Bardhi Spahia from the opposition.
In Himara, opposition candidate Fredi Beleri, who is in custody on vote-buying charges, won over the Socialist candidate Jorgo Goro with just 19 votes difference.
The opposition entered the elections divided. One of the two rival opposition fations, the United for Victory coalition led by former Democratic Party head Sali Berisha and former President Ilir Meta, is currently in second place behind the Socialists, leading in only six small municipalities.
Berisha was the first to reacted after the CEC declared the results in the first three municipalities, and refused to accept the results in one of them, the Kamza municipality.
"Reliable data proves that Kamza is a monstrous...