Election fraud: Live footage of Albanian hunger striker camp

Philippe Parreno sez,
On June 28th 2009, Albania held its parliamentary elections. These elections were supposed to mark a watershed moment in the country's democratic transition: a break with the tradition of manipulated and contested elections. Unfortunately the story was to repeat itself.

The Socialist led opposition complained about multiple irregularities in the electoral process and its claims were supported by the OSCE-ODHIR report that observed serious irregularities, the most disturbing of which concerned the fact that ballot counting in a full one third of the counting centers was bad or very bad. However, all the complaints of the opposition were dismissed by the relevant institutions, through decisions taken under extreme political pressure from the government.

Following the scandalous certification of the electoral results through a tainted legal process, the opposition declared that it recognized the results of the June 28th elections, but that nevertheless, it demanded full and thorough transparency of the process through a parliamentary inquiry; an inquiry which would include the opening of the ballot boxes and the examination of the electoral materials contained therein; an inquiry, which would not serve to change the results of the elections, but simply to save future elections from falling prey to the same machinations and manipulations.

However, although the demand of the opposition was constitutional, and although there existed a precedent for such an inquiry from the elections of 2005, the majority of Prime Minister Sali Berisha in an arrogant display of power and in violation of the Constitution continued to deny the opposition its right to transparency. The proposal for the establishment of a parliamentary commission of inquiry was voted down by the majority. All other attempts to achieve transparency through dialogue and negotiations met the same fate and the government of Sali Berisha turned a blind eye to the massive demonstrations of the opposition which on April 30th gathered 200,000 thousand Albanians in the capital Tirana.

Faced with the obstinate denial of its right to transparency, a right enshrined in Albania's constitution, the opposition decided to escalate its democratic action: since April 30th, 200 opposition MPs and ordinary citizens have been camped in Tirana's Martyrs of the Nation Boulevard, engaged in an open ended hunger strike in the name of free and fair elections.

Open the Boxes (Thanks, Philippe!)



  1. Dear Philippe

    I salute your solidarity with your socialists pals in Albania because it shows you’re a idealistic person but sometime emotions or even ideals can blind you from seeing and seeking the truth !

    If you wanna stick to OSCE report maybe you should learn that on the same document it is written that this were the best elections ever made in Albania (meaning even better than those won by SP leader mayor Rama) and that no sign of manipulation was seen during voting or counting process (does it ring a bell my friend) !

    This has been by far the most transparent elections ever made in Albania not only because every counting process have been aired live and all video-recorded handed over to interested parties but before all because every single one of 20.000 thousand SP commissioners ( add those of other parties this nr can triple) could have raised his/her hand or even signed the result with a note and that could have been enough for that result to be counted for a second time by Central Electoral Commission or by the court.

    Nthg like that ever happened because the counting was so transparent that no one had the reason to contest anything. SP couldn’t found a single evidence of fraud even though it possess the whole counting process in video – recorded material.

    The request for another recount has been denied by the CONSENSUALLY elected judges (given before election by both parties) of a special court because of LACK of EVIDENCE to JUSTIFY a RECOUNT …. a evidence that is still missing !

    After exhausting all legal means and facing the unanimous decision of international community to recognize the Albanian Elections as representing the free will of people, Mr Rama decided to achieve politically what he failed legally.

    There is a big constitutional debate whether the parliament can open or not the boxes just for transparency sake while there’s a court decision denying it … am not diving in that argument because am not a lawyer but I am very much surprised on why Mr Rama is choosing an extreme model of protest like hunger strike while he can still present its case to the Albanian Constitutional Court on whether the parliament can reopen and recount the boxes !

    So far Mr Rama has successfully addressed this court for almost every law passed by government that he thought unconstitutional (most of his member are appointed by Socialist Party during its 8 years of governing) After all that was also the suggestion Mr Rama got from Council of Europe ! Failing to do so in this case and rushing to extreme forms of protest in such a decisive moment for Albania’s integration in EU makes me wonder allot about his agenda !

    I hope Mr Rama understands that the match is over and the result was accepted now we all have to go to work and do our best for the country !

    1. Thanking Ms.Philippe Parreno on making this very delicate Albanian situation puplicly debated.
      My thoughts are simple.
      Why do people have to wait 10 months and end up on hunger strike for the simple request of complete transparency over the ballots.
      I would like to reply towards Anonymous #3 message.
      Dear friend, I wonder if you really don’t know the facts or you’re purposly hiding them.
      Every single argument you gave was left in half and emotionally wrong interpreted.
      Anyone who wishes to investigate will see the truth.
      You made a big and long comment and I’ll try to go through it and add what’s missing.
      OSCE added 1/3 (33%)of elections were bad or very bad managed.
      Demochristian Party showed on video the fraud done on north of country, in the south, village named Ruzhdia prosecutions found big frouds as well.
      The election code, which was the regulatory of these elections, was unilaterally not followed, denying the wright request of two members of central elections commission to recount the ballots on few places.
      The request for transparency of these elections from socialist party has started nine months ago on a very democratic and peacefull ways.
      No one goes on hunger strike for pleasure no one sacrifices themself for nothing. There’re more than 200 innocent people including 22 members of parliament asking nothing more than recounting the ballots in order that frouds never to happen again and the persons responsible answer in front of the law for changing the primary law in a democracy, the wright of casting your ballots freely and choosing the canditates on your free will.
      Regards from Toronto Alban Tershana.

  2. The professors at the University of Essex, both law and government faculties, are excellent with this kind of stuff.

  3. Has anyone heard of Pjerin Lumaj, Esq. recently? He is an Albanian-American reporter for the Examiner. He used to write about Albania until the Albanian Muslims threatened to kill him because he was critical of Sali Berisha. We need him now more than ever.

  4. “The request for another recount has been denied by the CONSENSUALLY elected judges (given before election by both parties) of a special court because of LACK of EVIDENCE to JUSTIFY a RECOUNT …. a evidence that is still missing !”

    Wrong anon. The “court” you talk about was controlled 3 to 2 by the democratic party, the decision to not investigate was not unanimous. It was only voted by the DP. Furthermore the “consensually” judges you talk about were not judges at all, but rather members of the CEC – Central Election Committee.

    As for evidence you are again wrong. Let me cite you the case of Ruzhdie – a village in which above investigation was allowed. The results were a shame. More than 300 stuffed votes for the ruling party – the individuals who had supposedly voted were according to state records out of the country during election day. I can go on and on on your other points.

    All the opposition is demanding is a fair investigation. They have clearly declared that they do not pretend to overthrow the regime neither do they want to change the results or re-make the elections. They simply want to be able to fully investigate the votes inside the ballot boxes to the records so as they can set a precedent which would make it much harder for election fraud in the future.

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