Tight race in Albania's vote: exit polls
Initial exit poll data in Albania's parliamentary election suggests that the ruling Socialist Party is in a tight race with the opposition Democratic Party.
The exit poll run for Euronews Albania from the MRB, part of the London-based Kantar Group, projects that the left-wing Socialists will win about 44 per cent of the vote while the Democrats are expected to capture about 42 per cent.
Some 3.6 million eligible voters in Albania and abroad voted to elect 140 lawmakers for a four-year mandate in the Balkan nation.
"The process was characterised by a calm situation, security and integrity," said Ilirjan Celibashi, head of the Central Election Commission. He said the winner would be known in 48 hours.
Albania, a NATO member since 2009, is looking forward to launching full membership negotiations with the 27-member European Union later this year and Sunday's vote is considered a key milestone on that path.
The hope is that post-communist Albania's 10th parliamentary election will be free and fair. To date, voting always has been marred by irregularities.
Preliminary turnout on Sunday was almost 48 per cent, slightly higher than four years ago.
There were some glitches. The electronic identification machines did not operate in 167 out of 5199 polling stations after no operators to work them were found in those remote areas, according to Celibashi.
There were some efforts to photograph ballots, which is not allowed by law, and a few physical arguments among opposing political supporters.
Prime Minister Edi Rama of the Socialists, who are seeking their third consecutive mandate, wants to boost Albanian efforts in tourism, energy, agriculture and digital projects.
Lulzim Basha of the Democrats accuses the government of corruption and links to organised crime, and has pledged lower taxes, higher salaries and more social support.
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