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Albania Election Seen as Test of Democracy

Albanians are voting in parliamentary elections Sunday, with a tight race expected between the ruling Socialists and opposition Democratic party.

Recent opinion polls show the Democrats, led by former president Sali Berisha, and Prime Minister Fatos Nano's Socialists were virtually tied heading into the election.

Albania's 2.8 million eligible voters are choosing among 2,800 candidates from about 20 political parties to fill all 140 seats in the legislature. No party is expected to win enough seats for an absolute majority.

Observers believe an election free of irregularities is important for Albania's aspirations to join NATO and the European Union.

Violence or allegations of fraud have marred all six Albanian elections since the fall of communism 15 years ago.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.