Tight Albania vote count shows tense race still on

Albania’s ruling Democratic Party led their main left-wing rivals by four seats on Wednesday but do not yet have enough seats to form a government with 98 percent of votes counted from Sunday’s parliamentary election.

Both parties favor European integration, market reforms, improved infrastructure and modernizing agriculture. The Socialists say they would turn to the International Monetary Fund for economic help, but Prime Minister Sali Berisha has publicly been more cautious about this. The Democrats have 70 seats against the Socialists’ 66, while the Socialist Integration coalition, a potential partner for the Socialists, have four seats.

Parliament has 140 seats. Both main parties traded accusations overnight saying the other was attempting to interfere in the counting process to influence the outcome. International observers said the election showed improvements over previous votes, but violations persisted. The EU said Albania must do better in future elections. Albanians have been glued to their television sets, watching marathon election programs that show exhausted counters bent over ballot papers.

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