ELECTIONS HELD IN 1997
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|29 June 1997
6 July 1997
|Elections were held for all the seats in Parliament following the premature dissolution of this body. General elections had previously been held in May/June 1996.|
|The previous (May/June 1996) general elections had led to the overwhelming victory of the Democratic Party (PDS) of President of the Republic Sali Berisha. In January 1997, violent protests erupted over failed financial investment schemes by the Government and these demonstrations subsequently degenerated into armed revolt across the country, when thousands of guns were looted from government armories. On 11 March, President Berisha appointed Mr. Bashkim Fino of the opposition Socialist Party (PSS) as the new Prime Minister and successor to Mr. Alexander Meksi (PDS); the next day, an interim multi-party government of « national reconciliation » was sworn in.
The date of the premature elections was announced on 21 April. The rebellion, for its part, caused an estimated 1600 deaths and led to the intervention of a multinational peacekeeping force. On 23 June, nearly all of the country’s political parties signed a « Pact for the Future of Albania » of mutual concessions in Rome. Altogether 23 parties and 1050 candidates vied for the enlarged Assembly’s 155 seats (formerly 140), which had been increased pursuant to a new Electoral Law approved on 16 May. The ruling PDS, headed by Mr. Tritan Shehu, was mainly challenged by a three-member « Forum for Democracy » coalition comprising the PSS of Mr. Fatos Nano, the Social Democratic Party (PSDS) headed by Mr. Skender Gjinushi and the Democratic Alliance.
Polling day was combined with a referendum on whether to maintain a republic or reintroduce the monarchy that had reigned until 1939. Voting procedures were monitored by hundreds of international observers, including an OSCE team headed by ex-Chancellor Franz Vranitzky of Austria and one from the Council of Europe; they were also overseen by a heavy police presence, which contributed to a generally calm atmosphere. The first round of voting (for the 115 majority seats) resulted in a clear victory for the ex-communist PSS, which ended up with a grand total of 101 seats after the second round in 32 constituencies on 6 July; its left-wing coalition partners captured 12 seats. The observers deemed the poll « satisfactory and valid » but stopped short of calling it free and fair.
Given the polling outcome, President Berisha declared that his party, while in opposition, would work to « consolidate democracy, its values and its laws ». Mr. Nano, who had been imprisoned since 1993, paid tribute to the « civilized silence » of the defeated PDS and its supporters. On 23 July, President Berisha was succeeded by Mr. Rexhep Mejdani. The new Coalition Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Nano, was sworn in two days later.
|Round no 1 (29 June 1997): Elections results|
|Number of registered electors||1,947,235|
|Round no 1: Distribution of seats|
|Socialist Party of Albania (PSS)||101||22||79|
|Democratic Party of Albania (PDS)||25||8||17|
|Social Democratic Party (PSDS)||10||1||9|
|Union for Human Rights Party (UHRP)||4||1||3|
|National Front (NF)||3||1||2|
|Democratic Alliance (DA)||2||1||1|
|Distribution of seats according to sex:|
|Percent of women:||5.16|
Copyright © 1997 Inter-Parliamentary Union