Al­ba­ni­ans go to polls amid heat­wave

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

TI­RANA: Al­ba­ni­ans were vot­ing in a par­lia­men­tary elec­tion yes­ter­day, with the rul­ing So­cial­ists and ri­val Democrats seek­ing a ma­jor­ity to push through ju­di­cial re­forms vital for mem­ber­ship of the EU.

The race pits So­cial­ist Prime Min­is­ter Edi Rama against the cen­tre-right Demo­cratic Party of Lulzim Basha. Nei­ther party won the 70 seats needed for a ma­jor­ity in the 2013 or 2009 elec­tions.

Polls opened at 7am on what is fore­cast to be the hottest day of the year so far, with tem­per­a­tures reach­ing 39°C. The polls close at 7pm.

The el­derly and the young were up early to vote when polling sta­tions opened in Ti­rana, to avoid the heat or to head to the beach af­ter vot­ing. Turnout at 1pm was 27.28%.

Thou­sands of Mus­lims, who make up 60% of the pop­u­la­tion, re­cited prayers in the newly-built pedes­trian square in cen­tral Ti­rana early yes­ter­day to mark the end of Ra­madaan.

Exit poll re­sults are ex­pected shortly af­ter polls close, with the first re­sults due to­day.

The elec­tions are ex­pected to be watched closely by Albania’s neigh­bours.

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