- Title: ALBANIA: ALBANIANS VOTE FOR THE FIRST GENERAL ELECTION SINCE 1997
- Date: 24th June 2001
- Summary: (W3) TIRANA, ALBANIA (JUNE 24, 2001) (REUTERS) 1. SLV TIRANA SKYLINE 0.05 2. SLV SUBURB OF TIRANA WITH VOTING LIST ON WALL 0.10 3. SMV PEOPLE LOOKING AT VOTING LIST ON WALL OF POLLING STATION 0.15 4. SLV FIRST VOTERS ENTERING POLLING STATION 0.20 5. SMV ELECTION OFFICALS CHECKING VOTERS DETAILS 0.25 5. SCU OLD WOMAN WAITING TO VOTE 0.30 6. SMV GROUP OF VOTERS COLLECTING BALLOT PAPERS AT ANOTHER POLLING STATION 0.35 7. SMV WOMEN VOTING 0.40 8. SMV VOTERS CASTING THEIR BALLOTS (2 SHOTS) 0.54 9. GV EXTERIOR OF POLLING STATION WITH PEOPLE GOING INTO VOTE 0.59 10. GV ENTRANCE TO POLLING STATION 1.03 11. VARIOUS, VOTERS CASTING THEIR VOTES (2 SHOTS) 1.16 12. GV VOTER READING NAMES ON ELECTION LISTS PINNED ONTO WALL 1.22 13. VARIOUS, ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER ILIR META, CANDIDATE FOR SOCIALIST PARTY, ARRIVING TO CAST HIS VOTE 1.31 14. SMV, META WALKING PAST VOTES TO GO TO POLLING BOOTH 1.39 15. VARIOUS, META VOTING (2 SHOTS) 1.47 16. SMV DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE SALI BERISHA IN POLLING BOOTH 1.54 17. SMV BERISHA PUTTING BALLOT PAPER IN BOX 2.06 18. GV BERISHA LEAVING POLLING STATION 2.11 19. WIDE OF BERISHA STANDING BY CAR AND ACKNOWLEDGING CHANTS FROM SUPPORTERS 2.17 20. SLV PEOPLE ON THE STREETS OF TIRANA 2.22 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 9th July 2001 13:00
- Location: TIRANA, ALBANIA
- Country: Albania
- Reuters ID: LVAES8C8IVU9XJJVI18474AK34S7
- Story Text: Albanians are going to the polls to vote in their first
general elections since 1997.
The main contenders in Albania's general election on
Sunday (June 24) are Prime Minister Ilir Meta's Socialists
and the opposition Democrats of former President Sali Berisha.
The Albanian election campaign has been relaxed and free
of violence, in stark contrast to the impoverished Balkan
nation's last election experience in 1997, when an Italian-led
multinational peacekeeping force had just restored order after
months of anarchy caused by the collapse of fraudulent
"pyramid" investment schemes.
About 250 Western observers are monitoring Sunday's vote.
The observers had expressed concern about efforts by both
the Socialists and Democrats to register a large number of
candidates for the 140-seat, single-chamber parliament as
independent. This would have given them a larger number of
seats under constitutional provisions designed to ensure
representation for smaller parties.
The independent Commission said it had barred all but five
of 114 candidates labelled "independent" by the two parties.
Votes for these candidates will be allocated to the parties
which are actually backing them when the vote is counted.
Sali Berisha, whose party had registered no fewer than 94
candidates as independent, including the party's
secretary-general, said he welcomed the ruling.
But the Socialists said their "independent" candidates
would appeal against the decision in court.
There are no reliable public opinion polls. But Meta's
Socialists, who won a landslide victory in local elections in
October last year, are widely expected to remain in power
albeit with a reduced majority.
Meta is also claiming credit for steady economic growth,
albeit from a low base, modest improvements in Albania's
catastrophic infrastructure and better tax collection.
The Meta government has been praised by Washington and the
European Union for its moderate stance on Macedonia and
Kosovo, two neighbouring Balkan flashpoints over the past four
To the relief of Albania's Western partners, the conflict
in neighbouring Macedonia, where ethnic Albanian insurgents
are battling government forces, and the whole concept of
Greater Albania did not become election issues.
Voting began at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) and was due to finish at
6 p.m. (1600 GMT). Some 2.5 million people were eligible to
vote. Thirty-eight parties were fielding candidates and a
total of 1,114 candidates were seeking election.
First results were expected around midnight (2200 GMT).
The Socialists have 99 seats in the outgoing 155-seat parliament
and the Democrats 29. The total number of seats is being reduced
to 140 under a constitutional reform enacted in 1998.
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