Partly Free
PR Political Rights 28 40
CL Civil Liberties 39 60
Last Year's Score & Status
67 100 Partly Free
Global freedom statuses are calculated on a weighted scale. See the methodology.

header1 Overview

Albania has a record of competitive elections, though political parties are highly polarized and often organized around leading personalities. Religious freedom and freedom of assembly are generally respected. Corruption and bribery remain major problems, though the government has endeavored to address corruption in the judiciary.

header2 Key Developments in 2022

  • In February, the Constitutional Court ruled against then president Ilir Meta’s 2021 impeachment, allowing him to complete his term. Lawmakers had impeached Meta over his conduct during that year’s electoral period and over concerns that he had incited violence.
  • Also in February, the parliament voted to extend the mandate of bodies responsible for vetting judges and prosecutors, as part of the government’s ongoing efforts to combat corruption in the judicial branch.
  • In June, lawmakers elected defense chief Bajram Begaj president, succeeding Meta. Parliamentarians from the opposition Democratic Party (PD) boycotted the vote. Opposition members voiced concerns over whether Begaj’s status as a military officer made his selection unconstitutional.

PR Political Rights

A Electoral Process

A1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Was the current head of government or other chief national authority elected through free and fair elections? 3.003 4.004

The president is the head of state and is elected by the parliament for a maximum of two five-year terms; the office does not hold executive power, though the president has some authority over the judiciary and the armed forces. The prime minister is the head of government and is designated by the majority party or coalition. Because both the president and prime minister are selected by lawmakers, their legitimacy is generally dependent on the conduct of parliamentary elections.

In June 2022, the parliament elected defense chief Bajram Begaj to succeed Ilir Meta as president. Meta had been impeached by lawmakers in 2021 over his conduct during that year’s electoral period, but the Constitutional Court overruled the parliament in February 2022, allowing him to complete his term. The PD boycotted the vote, with opposition lawmakers voicing concerns over whether his status as a military officer made his selection unconstitutional. Begaj took office in late July.

Socialist Party (PS) leader Edi Rama began his third term as prime minister following the April 2021 parliamentary elections.

A2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Were the current national legislative representatives elected through free and fair elections? 3.003 4.004

The unicameral, 140-member Kuvendi (Assembly) is elected through proportional representation in 12 regional districts of varying size corresponding to administrative regions. All members serve four-year terms.

The ruling PS maintained its parliamentary majority in the April 2021 polls, winning 49 percent of the vote and 74 seats. The PD won 39 percent of the vote and 59 seats, while the Freedom Party (then known as the Socialist Movement of Integration) took 4 seats. Turnout stood at 46.3 percent.

The elections were administered under reforms adopted in 2020, ensuring the participation of opposition parties including the PD, which had boycotted previous polls. International observers called the elections well-organized and competitive. However, the elections were also marred by irregularities, including allegations of widespread vote buying, the misuse of administrative resources by the PS, and media bias that allowed the PS to “derive significant advantage from its incumbency.” Despite such flaws, the results were widely accepted by stakeholders.

A3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are the electoral laws and framework fair, and are they implemented impartially by the relevant election management bodies? 3.003 4.004

The Central Election Commission (CEC) administers polls. In 2020, the parliament established the Political Council, comprised of representatives of the three largest parties, to address electoral reforms recommended by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The parliament adopted several provisions of the Council’s plan to gradually depoliticize election administration, introduce electronic identification of voters where technically possible, and restructure the CEC, among other changes. The CEC received additional responsibilities via these reforms.

The April 2021 elections were administered by the newly restructured CEC and were the first polls conducted after reforms were adopted in 2020. Despite concerns about the CEC’s ability to manage the polls after the parliament’s “extremely hasty” adoption of the electoral amendments, international observers reported that the elections proceeded smoothly and were competently and transparently administered.

B Political Pluralism and Participation

B1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do the people have the right to organize in different political parties or other competitive political groupings of their choice, and is the system free of undue obstacles to the rise and fall of these competing parties or groupings? 3.003 4.004

Albanian citizens generally have the right to organize in political parties. The two main parties, PS and PD, are sharply polarized and given to personality-driven rivalry. Candidates who do not belong to a party currently seated in the Assembly must collect a set number of signatures to run.

In January 2022, PD leader Lulzim Basha expelled former premier Sali Berisha from the party. The decision came after months of internal tension and days after Berisha supporters attempted to storm the party’s headquarters. An intraparty conflict between the two men’s supporters ensued; in March, Basha resigned as party leader, with Berisha succeeding him in May.

B2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there a realistic opportunity for the opposition to increase its support or gain power through elections? 3.003 4.004

In Albania’s multiparty system, opposition parties have the opportunity to participate in the political process and take power via the ballot box.

B3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are the people’s political choices free from domination by forces that are external to the political sphere, or by political forces that employ extrapolitical means? 3.003 4.004

While individuals are generally free to make their own political choices, powerful economic actors shape Albanian politics through their media holdings and influence on electoral campaigns. Criminal organizations and corrupt actors are also known to exert influence.

B4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do various segments of the population (including ethnic, racial, religious, gender, LGBT+, and other relevant groups) have full political rights and electoral opportunities? 3.003 4.004

Albanian law guarantees political rights for citizens regardless of their ethnic, racial, lingual, or religious identity. However, Roma and other marginalized communities remain vulnerable to political exploitation and have difficulty participating in politics.

Women are underrepresented in the Assembly, holding 35.7 percent of its seats. However, a record 12 women were appointed to the 17-member cabinet in September 2021.

C Functioning of Government

C1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives determine the policies of the government? 3.003 4.004

Since coming to power in 2017, the PS has largely been able to formulate and implement policy, though its ability to do so was somewhat impacted by a February 2019 opposition boycott. The potential for boycotts in the Assembly may weaken legislative oversight of the government.

C2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are safeguards against official corruption strong and effective? 2.002 4.004

Corruption is pervasive, and the European Union (EU) has repeatedly called for rigorous implementation of antigraft measures, particularly for corruption within the judiciary. In 2016, constitutional reforms established the Special Anticorruption Structure, which is tasked with investigating and prosecuting high-level corruption.

In a process monitored by EU and US experts, the government began vetting judges and prosecutors in 2018, to detect and combat corruption within the judiciary. A 2021 European Commission report praised Albania’s anticorruption efforts, specifically noting the success of judicial vetting. In February 2022, the Assembly extended the mandate of vetting bodies to the end of 2024.

C3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Does the government operate with openness and transparency? 2.002 4.004

A robust access-to-information law is not well implemented. Public procurement processes and public finances are frequently opaque, though parliamentary procedures are more open.

CL Civil Liberties

D Freedom of Expression and Belief

D1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are there free and independent media? 2.002 4.004

While the constitution guarantees freedom of expression, the intermingling of powerful business, political, and media interests inhibits the development of independent news outlets; most are seen as biased toward either the PS or the PD. Reporters have little job security, low salaries, and remain subject to lawsuits, intimidation, and occasional physical attack by those facing media scrutiny.

In November 2022, Council of Europe (CoE) fact finders warned that the Albanian media environment was worsening due in part to media-sector concentration. The CoE mission also voiced concerns over the independence of the country’s media regulator, the Audiovisual Media Authority.

The government restricted reporting on sensitive subjects in 2022. In June, prosecutors ordered outlets not to report on state witnesses’ testimony from an organized-crime investigation. In September, prosecutors banned the publication of material that was revealed via a cyberattack.

D2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private? 4.004 4.004

The constitution provides for freedom of religion, which is generally upheld in practice.

D3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free from extensive political indoctrination? 3.003 4.004

The government typically does not limit academic freedom, though teachers in several districts have faced pressure ahead of elections to participate in political rallies. Access to higher education is affected by corruption.

D4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are individuals free to express their personal views on political or other sensitive topics without fear of surveillance or retribution? 4.004 4.004

There are no significant restrictions on private discussion.

E Associational and Organizational Rights

E1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there freedom of assembly? 3.003 4.004

Freedom of assembly is generally respected.

Several protests and events were held in 2022, including some political rallies that turned violent. In January, supporters of Sali Berisha attempted to storm PD headquarters; they were forcibly dispersed by police using tear gas and water cannons, leading to several injuries. In December, Berisha was physically attacked while leading an antigovernment protest; the assailant was quickly arrested.

E2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there freedom for nongovernmental organizations, particularly those that are engaged in human rights– and governance-related work? 3.003 4.004

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) generally function without restriction but have limited funding due to dependence on foreign donors.

E3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there freedom for trade unions and similar professional or labor organizations? 2.002 4.004

Workers are constitutionally allowed to organize and bargain collectively, and most have the right to strike. However, effective collective bargaining remains limited, and union members have little protection against discrimination by employers.

F Rule of Law

F1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there an independent judiciary? 2.002 4.004

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, but corruption remains a serious problem, underfunded courts are subject to political pressure and influence, and public trust in judicial institutions is low.

In 2021, the Assembly adopted amendments to 10 laws in an effort to strengthen judicial efficiency. International governance bodies praised the subsequent reevaluation of judges and prosecutors via judicial vetting mechanisms. All priority cases had been reviewed by that September; more than 60 percent of all cases reviewed had resulted in dismissals “due to unexplained assets.” The vetting process continued in 2022; in April, Tirana chief prosecutor Elizabeta Imeraj was dismissed over concerns regarding her family’s assets.

F2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Does due process prevail in civil and criminal matters? 2.002 4.004

Constitutional guarantees of due process are upheld inconsistently. Trial procedures can be affected by corruption and are sometimes closed to the public. Although the state is supposed to offer free legal aid, legal counsel is not always provided to those who cannot afford their own. A number of local NGOs offer free legal aid for those affected.

F3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there protection from the illegitimate use of physical force and freedom from war and insurgencies? 2.002 4.004

Reports of police abuse of detainees continue. Prison inmates suffer from poor living conditions and inadequate medical treatment. Drug-related crime remains a problem, as Albania is a transit country for heroin smugglers.

Tribal law is practiced in parts of northern Albania, and sometimes involves revenge killings.

F4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population? 3.003 4.004

The Roma community faces significant discrimination in education, health care, employment, and housing.

A 2010 law bars discrimination based on race and several other categories, including sexual orientation and gender identity, and a 2013 reform of the criminal code introduced protections against hate crimes and hate speech based on sexual orientation and gender identity. A May 2022 pride parade in Tirana attracted significant support. However, anti-LGBT+ bias persists.

Women are underrepresented in the workforce. Women living in rural areas have fewer opportunities for employment and education.

G Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights

G1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy freedom of movement, including the ability to change their place of residence, employment, or education? 3.003 4.004

Albanians generally enjoy freedom of movement, though criminal activity and practices related to historically predominant honor codes limit these rights in some areas. People are generally free to change their place of residence or employment. Access to government documents is affected by bribery.

G2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are individuals able to exercise the right to own property and establish private businesses without undue interference from state or nonstate actors? 2.002 4.004

Numerous property restitution cases related to communist-era confiscations remain unresolved. Illegal construction is a major problem, as is bribery linked to government approval of development projects. Women continue to face serious challenges to fair and equal property inheritance from parents as well as when divorcing their husbands.

G3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy personal social freedoms, including choice of marriage partner and size of family, protection from domestic violence, and control over appearance? 2.002 4.004

The government generally does not place explicit restrictions on social freedoms, though same-sex marriages are not recognized.

Domestic violence is widespread. Police are poorly equipped to handle cases of domestic violence or spousal rape, which is often not understood to be a crime.

G4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation? 2.002 4.004

Albania has relatively robust labor laws but lacks the capacity to enforce workplace safety and other protections. Conditions in the manufacturing, construction, and mining sectors are often substandard and put workers at risk.

While Albania continues to struggle with human trafficking, authorities are proactive in addressing the issue. In recent years, the government has cooperated with civil society leaders, creating an advisory board on trafficking and increasing victim assistance in criminal proceedings.

On Albania

See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.

See More
  • Global Freedom Score

    67 100 partly free