There it was in my inbox, the email from the Dutch embassy I had been waiting for: “Unrest re. elections Tirana.” The ambassador kindly advised me to stay away from the communist-style congress center (between COIN and the football stadium, basically in front of the Dutch embassy), where the Komisioni Qendror i Zgjedhjeve (Central Election Committee) was opening the Tirana voting boxes to “recount the uncounted votes” (link in English). I passed the congress center on my way for my bidaily walk along the lake, a necessary habit I have picked up to counter the effects of the sometimes heavy pollution in the city center. The whole building was literally surrounded by military police, resting on their shields, drinking coffee in cafes nearby. The crowd that had assembled outside during the day and had tried to help PS deputies force their way into the building had somewhat calmed down, chain smoking. Several deputies where still outside, talking with members from the crowd.
According to the latest news, 17 boxes have been opened, resulting in 29 additional votes for PD candidate Basha and 10 additional votes for PS candidate and current mayor Rama. Taking the margin of 10 votes into account with which Rama had “won” the elections, Basha has taken the lead with 9 votes. More boxes will be opened in the coming days and more uncounted votes will appear. This whole situation is extremely ironic, as after the 2009 elections, there was also a call to open the voting boxes, at the time voiced by the PS. Instead, PD prime minister Berisha had the votes from the contested regions burned (see video below). This time, it is the PD that has called for a recount, which the PS intended to obstruct, unsuccessfully so it seems.
In any case, the above burning of the votes has inspired a small group, some of them my friends, to start a campaign entitled “Digjni votat tona” (Burn our votes), opposing the rather shameful and dirty tactics of both parties and suggesting to burn all the votes “pour en finir avec la démocratie.”
Writer Marin Nikolli has posted the following text on the Facebook page accompanying the campaign (in translation):
Taking the national political situation into account, I want to call out to all voters, people, those who love democracy in its reduced entirety, that an end is put to the blind idea of the electoral manipulation and the intertwining in the network of conspirational ideas to produce a “dictatorial” winner, so I call out to you and ask you to reflect on your needs and to put an end to the ideas and calls of the leaders of the two camps, protecting their votes (and not ours), so I call out to you, that we beseech them to appreciate us, to serve us, that we try to restore faith in our own votes, so let us ask them to burn them, let us leave everything behind that relates to their votes, and that we start everything anew with a fire, with a request for fire, for THE FIRE OF OUR VOTES.