There have been 9 regular (not early) Local Election Processes held within the timeframe of 1992-2023 in the following years: 1992, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019, and 2023. During the political period of 1991-2023, partial elections have also been conducted, with early elections taking place due to the termination of the mandates of the relevant Mayors.

Table: Electoral Processes for Local Government according to Territorial and Administrative Division
Source: Legislation
Comments and Analyses: Open Data Albania

With the legal amendments of 1992, local government units were labelled as “Komuna” (Commune), “Bashki” (Municipality), and “Rrethe” (District). In 1992, specifically on June 10, 1992, the Law No. 7572 “On the Organization and Functioning of Local Government” was approved, introducing an  administrative map of the country into three levels, namely 36 districts, 44 municipalities, and 313 communes.

Source: Legislation
Comments and Analyses: Open Data Albania

During the political period of 1992-2000, several partial administrative-territorial amendments were implemented, and in the year 2000, Albania had, respectively, 36 districts, 65 municipalities, and 309 communes.

With the above-mentioned territorial map, local elections were held in 1992, 1996, and partial local elections were conducted in 1998, involving several municipalities in the country, for the election of respective mayors of municipalities or communes.

In 2000, there was a change in the administrative-territorial division, with  “Rrethe” (districts) being replaced by the new term “Qarqe” (Regions), with a total of 12 regions. These regions consisted of 65 municipalities and 309 communes. This change remained in effect, and local elections were subsequently held in the years 2000, 2003, 2007, and 2011 based on the same division.

Source: Legislation
Comments and Analyses: Open Data Albania

“MiniBashkia” was an additional level of urban local government introduced with the aforementioned changes. Such changes, starting from 2000, were applied only in the city of Tirana, where the Municipality of Tirana consisted of 11 MiniBashkia (minimunicipalities). Each MiniBashkia was led by directly elected mayors, and each of them had its own municipal council. In 2000, elections for MiniBashkia Mayors were held in two rounds, while in the subsequent elections from 2003 to 2011, they were conducted in a single round.

The level of urban government known as “MiniBashkia” ceased to function with the administrative-territorial map changes approved in 2014.

The 2000 changes also included a reduction in the term of the Municipality Mayor from 4 years to 3 years. This extension of the mandate remained in effect for the subsequent term as well, specifically for those elected in the 2003 elections. The mandate (2003-2006) was extended until February 2007 due to the non-holding of elections in 2006 as a result of the political crisis at that time.

The year 2014 marks another significant change in the administrative-territorial map of the country. On July 31, 2014, the Parliament of the Republic of Albania adopted Law No. 115/2014, “On the Administrative-Territorial Division of Local Government Units in the Republic of Albania.”

The new territorial division establishes two institutional levels of local governance, namely “Qarqe” (Regions) and “Bashki” (Municipalities). The former “Komuna” (Communes) were transformed into administrative zones, which became part of the respective municipalities. The administrators of these administrative units are no longer directly elected by the residents but appointed by the respective Mayor of the Municipality.

As a result of the new territorial division, Albania now has 12 regions and 61 municipalities.

Source: Legislation
Comments and Analyses: Open Data Albania

The territorial map approved in 2014 remains in effect, and based on the same map, elections were held in 2015, 2019, and 2023 as well.

In the electoral years, specifically in 1992, 1996, and 2000, including the partial elections of 1998, local elections were conducted in two rounds. The second round took place if none of the competing candidates managed to win 50.01 percent of the votes in the first round.

In the electoral years 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019, 2023, and onwards (unless there are other changes), the electoral processes have been conducted in a single round. This means that the winning candidate is determined through a simple majority, which can be determined by as little as a single vote or the corresponding difference.

There have been 3 partial local electoral processes conducted in the Republic of Albania, respectively in the years 1998, 2009, and 2022. These processes are considered partial because the electoral competition includes a larger number of municipalities, MiniBashkia, or communes, more than one such entity. All three processes have been conducted based on different territorial maps, depending on the maps in effect at the time.

The country has also witnessed several local electoral processes in a number not exceeding 1 municipality due to different local dynamics in the respective municipalities where these processes have taken place.

The system of local elections is determined through a mixed system, specifically a confrontation in a majoritarian system where candidates for the institutional position of Mayor of the Municipality face each other nominally, regardless of their respective party affiliations they represent. However, on the other hand, they can be independent representatives or representatives of “citizen movements” created specifically for participation in the respective electoral battle.

Another aspect that shapes the overall mixed system in local elections is the proportional representation system, which involves the political confrontation of party logos, citizen movements, and independent candidates for the Municipal Councils of the respective municipalities.

The party representative lists in the Municipal Councils are closed (voters vote for the political symbol of the respective political party, not for the individual name on the list), determined through a ranking in numerical order. The number of winners for each list is determined by the votes that each political party or citizen movement has obtained in the respective municipality.

The number of Municipal Councils is equal to the number of municipalities, and the Chairman of the Municipal Council is elected through a simple majority in the respective Councils. The election of the Chairman of the Municipal Council can be carried out by a single party if it has a simple majority, or as a determination of pre-electoral or post-electoral declared alliances, which can reflect the political configuration of the Council. Post-electoral alliances formed in the Municipal Councils of different cities (especially at the local level) do not always express the same affiliation as the national alliances formed by the Parties at the central level. At different times, these alliances are evidence of local political realities.

The number of Districts is 12, and the members of the District Council are elected after the respective vote in the corresponding Municipal Councils of the Municipalities that constitute the respective District. The political affiliation of the members reflects the political division of mandates in the corresponding Municipal Councils. The Chairperson of the District Council is elected by a simple majority of votes from the members of the respective District Council, and the same can be elected by the simple majority of a single party or through pre- or post-election agreements between political forces at the national or local level.

Download excel: Local elections according to the Territorial-Administrative Division 1992-2023
Comments and Analyses: Open Data Albania
Contributed by: Ardit Gjinali
Translated by: Etleva Pushi