- Title: ALBANIA: Albanians vote in local election
- Date: 9th May 2011
- Summary: TIRANA, ALBANIA (MAY 08, 20011) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF POLLING STATION/ MAN LOOKS AT THE NAME LIST VARIOUS OF PEOPLE LOOKING AT THE NAME LIST POLLING CENTRE/ ELECTION POSTER ELECTION POSTER READING " FAMILY AND GROUP VOTING IS ILLEGAL" VARIOUS OF ELECTION WORKERS CASTING THE TEST BALLOT AND SEALING THE BOXES TIRANA RESIDENT QUEUING UP TO VOTE VARIOUS OF POLLING CENTRE OFFICIAL REGISTERING THE VOTER MAN CASTS HIS BALLOT (SOUNDBITE) (Albanian) UNIDENTIFIED VOTER, SAYING: "Long live Albania, long live democracy, prosperity for the youth." WOMAN CASTS HER BALLOT POLLING CENTRE (SOUNDBITE) (English) FISNIK TABAKU, SAYING: "First of all we wish that these elections go smooth and without any problems. We wish that a majority of people go to the polling." TABAKU LEAVES THE POLLING CENTRE
- Embargoed: 24th May 2011 13:00
- Location: Albania, Albania
- Country: Albania
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVADFN74RHLE8U0NEO1FYLGJRMFE
- Story Text: After a campaign marred by violent incidents including explosions, shootouts, stabbings and scuffles between rival supporters, Albanians voted in local elections on Sunday (May 8) amid a tense political stand-off.
Democracy is just 20 years old in a Balkan country ruled in the past by Ottoman and, far more briefly, Italian colonists, as well as a quixotic king and a Stalinist dictator.
The NATO member continues to suffer post-Communist growing pains including violent unrest in January which killed four anti-government protesters.
Sunday's vote for local mayors is the first test of political support since a contested 2009 general election whose messy aftermath has slowed the poor country's progress towards ultimate European Union membership.
Brussels, which rejected Albania's application for candidate status last November, has made clear the vote has to be free and fair if Albania wants to be considered for candidate status by the end of this year.
The opposition Socialist Party, led by Tirana Mayor Edi Rama who is running for a fourth term, is appealing to voters to use Sunday's vote to express discontent in a national government it calls corrupt and incompetent.
Rising fuel and food prices, coupled with some tax increases, could influence voters although the economy has continued to grow throughout the world economic crisis.
Berisha is adamant Sunday's results will not influent the future of the government nor prompt early elections.
"Long live Albania, long live democracy, prosperity for the youth," said the first voter at this polling centre.
"First of all we wish that these elections go smooth, and without any problems," said voter Fisnik Tabaku. "We wish that a majority of people go to the polling."
Apart from 2200 local monitors, some 600 foreign election monitors coordinated by an agency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe a pan-European rights watchdog, will fan out across Albania to watch the vote, local media reported.
The overall number of Albanian voters is over 3.1 million.
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