A poll predicts that the ruling Socialists will win 46.9% of the vote, giving them a slight majority in parliament.
The ruling Socialist Party in Albania appeared poised to narrowly win Sunday’s national elections and secure a third term for Prime Minister Edi Rama, an exit poll showed.
According to the Top Channel TV exit poll, the Socialists were to win 46.9% of the vote, which would give them a slight majority of 71 seats in the 140-seat parliament.
The Democratic Party, led by Lulzim Basha, is expected to win 43.5% of the vote, while another small opposition party, the Socialist Integration Movement, is expected to come third with 6.9% of the vote.
The Euronews Albania exit poll of the MRB, which is part of the London-based Kantar group, predicts that the Socialists will win around 44% of the vote while the Democratic Party is expected to capture around 42%.
The official results are not expected until Monday.
“The process was characterized by a calm situation, security and integrity,” said Ilirjan Celibashi, head of the Central Election Commission. He said the winner would be known “in 48 hours”.
History of violence
Albania, which has a population of 2.8 million but 3.6 million voters due to its large diaspora, has a history of violence and allegations of election fraud in the 30 years since the end of communism.
On Wednesday, a Socialist Party supporter was killed and four people were injured in a shooting following a dispute between Socialist supporters and Democrats.
Albania was granted candidate status for the European Union in 2014, but there has been little progress due to enlargement fatigue around the bloc and the lack of reforms in Albania.
Voters are eager to end rampant corruption. Albania ranks 104th on Transparency International’s 180 country list for 2020 and is accused by the United States of being a major source of marijuana production and other drug shipments.
Rama, a 56-year-old painter and former basketball player, has been in power for eight years.
Orestia Nano, an artist, said her main motive for voting was to end corruption.
“When I entered the University of the Arts, there were people my age who paid money to enter school. There are people who have to pay money to get health treatment (in public hospitals), ”she told Reuters news agency.
“It’s (corruption) is bad enough at really high levels.”
The new government will have to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and rebuild homes after a 2019 earthquake that killed 51 people and damaged more than 11,400 homes.