Albania: NDI public opinion research reveals how to strengthen public engagement in politics.

Friday, December 18, 2020

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The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Tirana-based Institute for Democracy and Mediation conducted polling and focus group research in Albania from June to September 2020 to gauge public opinion on the country’s political health using democracy benchmarks of public engagement, citizen participation in politics, government transparency, and social inclusion. 

The research shows that Albanians have been critical of governing institutions and political processes during the past year: 

  • Two-thirds of Albanians are dissatisfied with government and opposition; 

  • Youth (aged 18 - 30 years) report the lowest level of knowledge and interest in politics; 

  • Three out of 10 respondents believed parliament was transparent as it responded to the Covid-19 pandemic. Less than two out of 10 respondents believed parliament was transparent before the pandemic.  

  • Voting intention has declined by 21 percent when compared to 2016. Albanians do not feel represented by the existing parties and are wary of parties’ ability to deliver on promises.

Despite the disgruntlement, Albanians continue to desire more engagement, not less, in the country’s political process as Albania struggles with the Covid-19 pandemic and readies for parliamentary elections set for April 2021.

  • Citizens see more opportunities for engagement through civil society organizations working on public policy reform and good governance issues. Respondents cited being more engaged with civil society through social media and online petitions. 

  • A quarter of respondents reported contacting their local mayor or local councilor in the last year, and 40 percent of respondents felt comfortable approaching their local leaders if they had an issue of concern. 

  • More than two-thirds of respondents said that access to public information is important to them. Citizens want to know in particular who funds the electoral campaigns of political parties, and candidates and how such funds are spent. 

  • Survey respondents prefer engaging with their MPs in open, public settings rather than in party offices or in parliament.

  • Voting for individual MP candidates directly--rather than through the current closed-list system in which voters vote for a slate of candidates--is overwhelmingly viewed as a consequential step toward improving government accountability before the public and the responsiveness of government to citizen concerns. As noted by a focus group participant “I see open lists as [good] because both parties will try to recruit good candidates.”

This research reprises the 2016 Audit of Political Engagement in Albania. The research engaged more than 1,500 respondents around the country, using a stratified sampling methodology. The polling fed into four focus groups to provide qualitative nuance to data trends. 

NDI conducted the research as part of its democratic development programming in Albania that focuses on parliamentary strengthening, election integrity, anti-corruption, and the inclusion of young people in the political process. NDI’s Albania programs are conducted from its office in Tirana.

 

This research was conducted with funding from the National Endowment for Democracy. The views expressed in the survey do not necessarily reflect those of IDM, NDI, or the NED. The survey is modeled on the Audit of Political Engagement designed by the United Kingdom´s Hansard Society to measure level of political engagement.

Media contact

Jerry Hartz

Director of Government Relations and Communications

1 (202) 728-5500

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About This Resource

Author: NDI & IDM
Publisher: NDI
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