PM Rama's coalition wins big in Albanian local elections

Center-left rakes in 43 municipalities, retakes Tirana

23 June, 18:00

    Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama casts his vote at a polling station near Tirana,  Albania, 21 June 2015 Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama casts his vote at a polling station near Tirana, Albania, 21 June 2015

    (ANSAmed) - TIRANA, JUNE 23 - The center-left coalition under Prime Minister Edi Rama won the local elections held in Albanian on Sunday by a landslide.

    The elections were the first since local administration reform was approved, reducing the number of municipalities in the country from 373 to 61.

    The coalition led by Rama - which seems not to have been affected by its first two years in power - won in 43 of the municipalities and retook the capital, Tirana. It is also ahead in three others where vote counting is continuing. The center-right under outgoing Tirana mayor Lulzim Basha won in 14 municipalities and expects to win in Shkoder, which would be the largest city it has won in, as all other cities have gone to the Rama-led coalition. The winning candidate in Tirana is a politician with 37 years in the field behind him and a former welfare minister, Erion Veliaj, who is 18 percentage points ahead of his rival, the well-known gynecologist Halim Kosova. Votes have yet to be counted for the remaining 8 seats.

    Veliajha brought home the largest victory ever in Tirana, with over 43,000 votes over his rival. ''This is an immense result. We will be immensely humbled,'' Veliaj said in front of a crowd of colleagues and supporters at the headquarters of the Socialist Party, pledging that ''Tirana will be the home of all of its citizens, without political distinction.'' (ANSAmed).

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