Election procedure begins
The election procedure to select the next president of Albania starts today and may consist of up to five rounds of voting.
Candidates must have the backing of 20 Members of Parliament to be eligible to take part in the election, which is conducted by secret ballot. In the first three rounds candidates will require two-thirds of the 140 votes in parliament, but in the fourth and fifth rounds a majority (71 votes) will be sufficient.
There is pressure on all concerned to come up with a consensus candidate, but divisions are already showing, not least between the coalition partners. Although the Democrats and the Socialist Movement for Integration MPs combined would give 74 votes, the Democrats want someone from their party, whilst the LSI have said they want consultation and a candidate who is not from the Democrats.
Although largely a titular role, the president does have considerable influence over the judicial system; as head of the High Council of Justice he is responsible for nominating the general prosecutor and high court judges, who are then ratified by parliament.
If the new president is a member of the Democrats, there are fears it will lead to far greater power in the hands of Prime Minister Sali Berisha – a concern that could lead to further delays in Albania’s bid for EU membership.