Albania’s ruling Socialist Party looked set to narrowly win Sunday’s national election and secure a third term for Prime Minister Edi Rama, an exit poll showed.
According to Top Channel TV’s exit poll, the Socialists were set to win 46.9 percent of the vote, which would give them a slight majority of 71 seats in the 140-seat parliament.
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The Democratic Party, led by Lulzim Basha, were set to win 43.5 percent of the vote while another smaller opposition party, the Socialist Integration Movement, was forecast to come third with 6.9 percent of the vote.
The exit poll run for Euronews Albania from the MRB, part of the London-based Kantar Group, projects that the Socialists will win about 44 percent of the vote while the Democratic Party is expected to capture about 42 percent.
Official results are not expected before Monday.
“The process was characterised 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 fraud during elections in the 30 years since the end of communism.
On Wednesday, a Socialist Party supporter was killed and four people were injured during a shootout following a dispute between Socialist and Democratic supporters.
Albania was granted European Union candidate status in 2014, but there has been little progress due to enlargement fatigue around the bloc and lack of reforms within Albania.
Voters are eager for an end to widespread corruption. Albania ranks 104th in Transparency International’s 180-nation list for 2020 and is accused by the United States of being a major source for 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 to vote was to end corruption.
“When I entered the University of Arts there were people of my age who paid money to get into the school. There are people who have to pay money to get health treatments (in state hospitals),” she told Reuters news agency.
“It (corruption) is pretty bad at really high levels.”
The new government will have to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and rebuilding homes after a 2019 earthquake that killed 51 people and damaged more than 11,400 residences.