According to the preliminary results of the vote count, Prime Minister Edi Rama will remain in power for a third term.
Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama is likely to remain in power for a third term, with his Socialist Party firmly in the lead, according to preliminary election results released Monday.
Rama, in power since 2013, has yet to declare victory in the election, which has been closely watched in European capitals as Albania seeks EU membership.
The vote count is complete in two-thirds of the polls, and according to the electoral commission, the Socialists received nearly 49 percent of the vote.
An opposition alliance led by the Democratic Party won just over 39 percent, and another anti-Rama party received nearly 7 percent of the vote.
The campaign took place in a tense environment, which was further exacerbated in the last week when a shooting between supporters of different parties killed one person.
However, election day itself passed peacefully. U.S. and EU ambassadors urged all sides to remain calm and wait for the official results.
Shortly after the polls closed, Democratic leader Ljulzim Basha said his side had clearly won, and on Monday he told reporters, “The victory of the Alliance for Change is indisputable.”
Election results in Albania are often disputed, leading to mass protests and boycotts of parliament in the past.
Although the Socialists are leading by a solid margin, local media suggest that the party may not get the necessary 71 seats in parliament to form a government on its own.
Experts also warn that preliminary data should be treated with caution, and the final results will not be available until Tuesday.
The prime minister posted a photo of the sunrise on Facebook with the caption, “What a sunrise in Tirana!”
During his tenure, Rami has launched a number of ambitious infrastructure projects and, during his election campaign, promised to vaccinate 500,000 people against the coronavirus by the end of May.
But the tiny Balkan country of 2.8 million people remains one of the poorest in Europe, and nongovernmental organizations consider it one of the most corrupt on the continent.
The European Union last year agreed to begin formal negotiations for Albania’s accession to the bloc. The country is overwhelmingly in favor of joining the EU, but a date for the first meeting has not yet been set.
The bloc has also demanded that Albania undertake a number of reforms, including to the judicial and electoral systems.