Having noted numerous irregularities of precisely the kind that Gumbel mentions in elections we have monitored in Transcaucasia, Central Asia and even Russia, what strikes us as strange is why the polls held in these other Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) member states have invariably been judged "free and fair", while the far more impartially-administered electoral process in Albania attracted an unprecedented level of criticism.
It is not true to say that the elections were "boycotted by all but one opposition party". Had the Socialists and others indeed withdrawn from the contest ahead of voting day, their claims to have been the victims of a one-sided media campaign against them would have had greater credibility. Instead, they pulled out in the early evening of the first round of voting, once the first exit polls had shown they were unlikely to win by the ballot box. In other words, they tried to have it both ways: to stand in an election which, having lost, they then denounced as illegitimate.
London SW1Reuse content