TIRANA – Preliminary results on Monday showed the ruling Socialist Party ahead in Albania’s parliamentary election.
With half of the votes counted, the left-wing Socialists of Prime Minister Edi Rama have 49% of the votes, followed by the main opposition center-right Democratic Party of Lulzim Basha with 39%.
It is still unclear whether Socialists will get the 71 seats they need to govern alone.
Preliminary turnout Sunday was almost 48%, slightly higher than four years ago.
Some 3.6 million eligible voters in Albania and abroad voted to elect 140 lawmakers for a four-year mandate in the Balkan nation.
Voting Sunday took place relatively smoothly, though with some problems with logistics and allegations of the photographing of ballots. The main issue was voters’ electronic identification, which was applied for the first time in the country — 167 out of 5,199 polling stations didn't function.
International observers from the the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe said “the introduction of e-voting technology represents an important and welcome improvement for Albania.”
Ilirjan Celibashi, head of the Central Election Commission, considered the election a success and said “the process was characterized by a calm situation, security and integrity.” He said the winner would be known by Tuesday evening. Counting will continue for the candidates — it was the first time Albanian voters selected individual candidates in addition to political parties.