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Albanian Diaspora right to vote in Albanian Elections - open discussion

The issue of Albanian emigrants' right to vote in elections has sparked confusion, debate, and skepticism. This skepticism, both within and outside Albania, revolves around the willingness of Albanian politics and the capabilities of the country's legal and administrative infrastructure to enable this right. Ambiguity, particularly among Albanians in Albania, arises from the disparity between the legal entitlement and the practical, logistical, and legal challenges faced by emigrants eager to vote. There is also a fundamental question: should Albanians residing abroad have the right to influence Albanian politics through their votes?

In conversations, especially within Albania, the participation of the diaspora in Albanian elections is viewed as a matter solely concerning emigrants. Some argue that emigrants should not have the right to select representatives in local politics due to various reasons, such as their lack of tax contributions and unfamiliarity with the local situation and electoral candidates.

Efforts to enable emigrants to vote from abroad have faced hurdles. In February 2022, the "Diaspora for Free Albania" association lodged a complaint with the Constitutional Court, challenging the decision that prevented emigrants from voting in the parliamentary elections on April 25th (due to a two-week quarantine requirement for returning emigrants).

In December 2022, the Constitutional Court ruled, acknowledging the violation of emigrants' constitutional voting rights due to legal gaps. The Parliament was instructed to rectify these gaps within a year.

While this decision was met with optimism by the diaspora and those supporting diaspora voting, the implementation steps and the extent of emigrants' voting rights in Albania remain unclear.

On January 15, 2023, "Diaspora for Free Albania," in collaboration with the Albanian-Canadian Alternative for Development (ACDA), organized a meeting in Toronto. The aim was to address these uncertainties and foster discussions on this issue. This event marked the beginning of a series of initiatives planned by ACDA in the upcoming months.

While skepticism persists, not only within this activity but also in media discussions within and outside the country following the Court's decision, it underscores the necessity of addressing the complexities involved (legal, logistical, and the rights of emigrants to influence Albanian politics) in a broader conversation among Albanians.

Overall, this meeting demonstrated the keen interest, dedication, and valuable contribution that the Albanian community outside Albania is eager to make to their home country.

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