By Fatjona Mejdini
As the ballots start to be counted around midnight, preliminary results from the Albanian general elections are set to be released early Monday morning.
Albanians are tensely awaiting election results which will be announced only on Monday after the long process of transporting votes from the polling station to the counters has taken place.
On Sunday voting for the general elections began at 7am local time and continued until 8pm – one hour later than expected as polling station closures were postponed on account of the low turnout.
The Central Electoral Commission, CEC, announced at 9pm that the turnout was around 45 per cent. Calculation shows that more than 1.5 million people voted out of a potential 3.4 million in the electoral rolls. In 2013 electoral turnout stood at around 53 per cent, and more than 1.7 million people cast their ballot.
After 8pm, the process of transporting the votes, accompanied by police and party representatives started.
The Sunday voting process started peacefully although some incidents marked the day.
Several incidents were related to the Socialist Movement for Integration, formerly led by Ilir Meta, now the president-elect.
Meta travelled in to the northwestern Lezha region where a shooting was reported in the coastal town of Shengjin. Meta accused police there of being biased and “defending criminals instead of citizens” after no arrests were made.
Police initially reported that shootings occurred in a restaurant in the port area. They said that at the site of the shooting a shell casing was found and that no one seeking treatment for a gunshot had sought help in area hospitals.
The Socialist Party, PS, in Lezhe (the region in which Shengjin is located) stated in a press release that it considered Meta’s statements “a reflection of a political desperation and loss of logic,” emphasising that Meta is already president-elect and such political maneuvers are disrespectful of the position.
Over the course of the afternoon, local media reported clashes between supporters of LSI and PS in Durres, Shkoder and Vlora, while police intervened to prevent further escalation.
PS and LSI have run the governing coalition for four years although the relationship between them started to grow bitter after Rama signed a political deal with opposition Democratic Party, PD, leader Lulzim Basha to end a three-month political stalemate.
Over the course of the day there were also reports of people pressuring voters, according to the interior ministry.
Earlier in the day the deputy prime minister, Ledina Mandija in an interview with News 24 said that the Prosecutor’s Office had received information that certain armed groups had been travelling in cars with no license plates and had been involved in vote buying. The incidents were reported in Delvine, Lezhe, Lushnje, Velipoje and Shkoder.