Preliminary results in Albania's municipal elections show the country's leftist majority is ahead in most municipalities, including the capital Tirana and other main cities.

About one-third of the ballots from Sunday's election have been counted so far. Albanians were voting to elect 61 mayors and 1,600 municipal counselors in a new trimmed-down municipal structure.

With a turnout of about 48 percent, the vote was considered a key step toward convincing the European Union to launch membership negotiations with Albania, which was granted candidate status last year.

Only minor scuffles or alleged manipulation attempts were reported during the voting, which in the past has been marred by problems. International monitors are to give their preliminary findings later Monday.