Albania, further elections for the balances of power

Albania, further elections for the balances of power

Geminello Alvi | Columnist and writer
Balkan politics must for now be regarded a result of European diplomacy. Moreover, the European Union seems to have resigned to the intricate geopolitics of the Balkans

See our 2017 Elections Special


The latest polls, released only in the last few days, that Ipr Marketing has conducted in individual boards, would appear to confirm the Socialists up by two percentage points and in the lead. Prime Minister Edi Rama’s party, in the polls released by the same institute on May 29/30, leads with 43% of the votes, ahead of Lulzim Basha’s Democratic Party, with 36%. However, considering the Albanian elections by taking into account the polls alone or looking at the final result scenarios would be misleading. These elections must now be recognized as an addition to the balances of power defined in the surprise agreement of May 18 between the two leaders, which came as a surprise after three months of demonstrations, parliamentary boycotts and self-exclusion, announced by Basha’s party elections.

The surprise agreement of May 18

At the dawn of May 18, the two leaders announced that they had come to a mutual agreement, which planned to postpone the elections by one week, from June 18 to 25, as well as a new deadline for registering parties at the Central Electoral Commission, so as to enable the participation of opposition parties. Edi Rama also remained in office as Prime Minister, but the opposition was assigned the appointment of Deputy Prime Minister and the leadership of six crucial ministries, (Interior, Justice, Education, Finance, Health and Welfare) covered by technicians, and not by prominent right-wing individuals. The opposition was granted the non-technical presidency of the Central Electoral Commission and the appointment of the National Civic Defender. Klement Zguri, a former DP representative in the Commission was appointed new President, while the Civic Defender is Erinda Ballanca, a former lawyer of Lulzim Basha and of former Democratic prime minister Sali Berisha. Forcing a solution to the crisis was the visit of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Hoyt Brian Yee, who, during his two-day visit to Tirana, declared his support for the previous proposal of European parliamentarian David McAllister. It was therefore to be understood that the international community was expected to recognize the Albanian elections, even in the event of a lack of participation by the opposition and gave a twenty-four-hour ultimatum to Lulzim Basha to make a statement on the proposal. It can therefore be said that the unexpected turn that had overthrown the positions, to date judged as fundamental by the two political parties, therefore confirmed the uncertainty of the Albanian political class. Politics in Albania depends on international mediators, seeking, in their support, much more so than in the result of the electoral vote, their legitimacy.

The crisis of internal relations within the PS-LSI coalition

Another consequence that can be inferred from the agreement is the final crisis of internal relations within the PS-LSI coalition, the winner of the previous political elections, but now dissolved. Signed just over one month after the elections, the Rama-Basha agreement would leave a large post-election coalition between the two major parties. If the government exiting the reshuffling sees ten PS exponents, seven PD exponents and four LSI exponents, the result of the vote could leave the LSI aside. In any case, the SP runs for the elections alone. This dissolution of the opposing coalition can be said to have been the first result achieved by Basha prior to the elections; the second is that of having significantly consolidated his leadership. In turn, Rama maintains, along with his party, a position of electoral advantage from which he can renegotiate his power arrangements. It will be worth mentioning, however, that just a few days prior to the agreement, a worrying article in the Financial Times suggested the risk that Albania is transforming into a Narco-State. Balkan politics, be it that of Serbia, which has been confirmed as the most politically stable nation in the region, or of Albania, must, in the end, be regarded as a result of European diplomacy. Yet the European Union seems to have resigned to the intricate geopolitics of the Balkans, and is happy to avoid falling into crises and their nationalistic drift, but failing to resolve them in a stable context.