Albanians have been voting to elect municipal councils in polls that are being closely watched by the European Union and the United States.
Troops are patrolling key buildings during the polls
The polls are being seen as an indication of Albania's progress towards democracy and possible future integration with the EU and Nato.
They have been postponed once, amid allegations of corruption and threats of an opposition boycott.
The economy is deeply troubled, causing a third of Albanians to emigrate.
The count will be monitored by hundreds of observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
The BBC's Nicholas Walton says a lot is at stake in this small, ex-communist country in the Balkans.
The Tirana mayor - ready for national government?
Street protests against the hardships of every day life, such as corruption, unemployment and electricity shortages, are common.
Our correspondent says that, with widespread dissatisfaction at current politicians, the polls are being seen as a test of a new generation of politicians.
The most notable of these is Edi Rama, the mayor of the capital, Tirana.
Before becoming mayor he was an artist; since taking office he has adopted a number of high profile initiatives, including painting many of Tirana's drab apartment blocks in bright colours.
The vote in Tirana is considered a test of his ambitions for national government. He is up against another high profile candidate, Sokol Olldashi, who until recently was the interior minister for the ruling party.