Albanians go to polls amid heatwave
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.