Albanians vote in local elections on Sunday amidst high tension after a campaign marred by violence.
National elections at the start of the year also brought trouble.
The two main parties’ programmes vary little, but rivalry is intense. Conservative Prime Minister Sali Berisha, has rejected calls for his governing Democrats to resign over corruption allegations and vote-rigging in elections two years ago.
The main focus will be the capital Tirana, where Socialist mayor Edi Rama is running for re-election. Over the past two years his party has boycotted parliament, staged a hunger strike and organised street protests.
During the campaign several politicians have been beaten up or bombed.
“I am not very interested in elections but from what I can see in the media, the situation seems to be tense, I hope that these elections will be quiet and within European standards,” said Enisa, a 21-year-old student in Tirana.
A demonstration after January’s disputed election turned violent: four opposition supporters were shot dead.
It is hoped that this time Albania can break two years of political stalemate.
This vote is seen as a test of the small Balkan country’s suitability for EU membership. Hundreds of international observers will be monitoring the election.