Parliamentary Elections

April 25, 2021


  • Unicameral legislature in a parliamentary constitutional republic; 140 seats in the parliament elected to four-year terms; the president is elected by the parliament and can then appoint a prime minister.
  • Members are elected by closed-list proportional representation in twelve multi-member constituencies; parties must pass a very low voting threshold of 1%.
  • Incumbent: The center-left, social democratic Socialist Party, led by Prime Minister Edi Rama, currently holds a majority in the Parliament.


  • Socialist Party of Albania (SP): center-left, social democratic, and pro-European; led by Prime Minister Edi Rama, who is seeking a third term as Prime Minister and running on a platform of continuity.
  • Democratic Party of Albania (PD): center-right, conservative, and pro-European; main opposition party; led by Lulzim Basha; running in coalition with 13 smaller parties across the political spectrum, focusing on rejuvenating the economy and moving Albania forward on its path towards EU accession.
  • Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI): center-left, social democratic, pro-European; party was formed from a split with the Socialist Party in 2004; founded by President Ilir Meta, the party is currently lead by his wife, Monika Kryemadhi. Increasingly critical of the Socialist-led government, PD and LSI have announced they will cooperate to form a government if SP fails to gain a majority.
  • Social-Democratic Party (PSD): center-left, social democratic; although a minor party, it is singular in announcing its willingness to join in coalition with SP; led by controversial businessman Tom Doshi, a former Socialist Party member who is currently banned from entering the U.S. due to allegations of corruption, the decision of Albania’s Central Election Commission to approve the party to run in the election sparked considerable opposition.

Impact on U.S. Interests

  • Albania has been a NATO member since 2009 and contributes to the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and the KFOR mission in Kosovo, as well as NATO’s Forward Presence in Latvia. To bolster its power-projecting capabilities into the Mediterranean and Black Sea, NATO is currently modernizing an air base in Kucova, Albania.
  • Between 2012 and 2020, China invested an estimated $814 million in Albania; China currently owns 100 percent of Tirana airport and 95 percent of the country’s crude oil fields. Although the total investment is not as large as in other Western Balkan countries, the strategic nature of the investment and its impact on the country’s debt levels raise concerns about the country’s long-term debt dependency and level of Chinese economic influence in the country.

Key Issues to Watch

  • The country’s economic recovery following a devastating earthquake in 2019 and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is a major issue for all parties. SP has campaigned on promises of wage increases for teachers and medical workers, the continuation of the government’s earthquake recovery efforts, as well as infrastructure projects to increase the country’s connectivity; PD has similarly campaigned for wage increases, tax system reforms, pension reforms, and education subsidies.
  • Both campaigns insist they are champions of anti-corruption efforts although a recent report labeled Albania as a state which has been captured by corrupted political interests. Revelations of government corruption and ties of government officials to organized crime have continued to galvanize public anger against the government, leading to several waves of protests against the Socialist-led government, which opposition leaders hope to capitalize on.
  • Anger may be replaced by voter apathy. The percentage of citizens who report they are likely to vote in government elections has declined precipitously since 2016 (voter turnout in the 2017 parliamentary election was 46%), pointing to widespread disillusionment with political processes which may work in the current government’s favor.
  • Albania’s neighbors are also seeking to influence and shape the outcome of this election. Kosovo’s ruling Vetëvendosje party, which advocates for a union between Kosovo and Albania, has put forward three “independent” candidates in Albania as part of the opposition to SP; Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti has publicly urged Albanians to vote for these candidates, with several Vetëvendosje members traveling to Albania to take part in campaign events. North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has also waded into the campaign, urging Albanian-Macedonians to vote for the Socialist party of Edi Rama.


  • Polls from April 2021 put SP in the lead at 50%, hovering on the edge of another majority. The PD coalition follows closely behind at 41%, with LSI in a distant third at 6%. PSD is polling close to the voting threshold at 1%.