This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al
By Plator Nesturi
After the strong debates regarding internal party organization and the new party statute, which provides more power for the party leader, the Democratic Party needs a political battle now in order to set itself in motion. This is the most normal thing that an opposition can do. To learn lessons from its failures and resume a fighting position if it wishes to remain a political factor and player at the same time. Tahiri’s issue seems to be the main topic of discourse for the opposition. Nonetheless, the stance on this issue seems to have seen many zigzags in the past six months, since a criminal investigation was opened about the former minister. Tahiri is more of a topic which would help to exert pressure on Rama, more than a call to see justice being made by a system which is under reformation. Nevertheless, due to a lack of strategy or due to an attempt to open a new communication channel with Rama, in the past few months, the opposition has done nothing else but move away from the things that it claimed would lead it to a victory and to Rama’s overthrow from power. Let us recall the protest of Kukes and the call for civil disobedience, which were neglected completely.
What attracted everyone’s attention in the past few days was the declaration made by the Democratic Party ally, Duka, who said that work should start on the electoral reform in order for parliament to approve it as soon as possible. There are also rumors about snap polls as a result of sudden political developments. If this is the case, then the new electoral code should be passed as soon as possible. Meanwhile, if we go back in time, the approval of the new electoral code, has been the first political move made by Basha, immediately after the DP lost the elections and following the campaign for the post of the new party leader. A move which was soon forgotten and its only purpose was to attract attention at a time when the opposition was in a state of shock as a result of its defeat. But, the approval of a new law requires sides to sit down and strike a deal in order to have two thirds of votes in parliament. Is this an indirect call for a new agreement between Rama and Basha?
Nonetheless, the new electoral law is a new incentive for a battle that was left unfinished during the last mandate. The amendments in the Election Code and the respective improvements have been an old task of OSCE-ODHIR, as part of the recommendations given to the political class. These obligations were not delivered in four years and here we don’t need to identify the true reasons why the law was not amended. It seems that that none of the sides were interested on the improvement of the electoral code and the stories of electronic ballot counting, and the vote of migrant workers were nothing else but a pretext to keep things as they were. As it has often been the case in the history of Albanian pluralism, the two main parties have never dealt specifically with the electoral system. In all cases, amendments in the electoral code have been part of a broader package of agreements that the leaders of the main parties have implemented.
If we consider this adjustment of the electoral code as a trend, could it be that in this case too, Basha is looking to strike a new deal with Rama? In an intricate debate within the DP, where Basha’s authority has been undermined more than ever before, he needs a movement where he will not only be confirmed as the representative and leader of the DP, but also as the figure that the opponent respects in the table of talks. The DP leader has said that the agreement with PM Rama reached before the elections is no longer valid, although his ministers governed for another three months with Rama. However, even if the agreement reached before the elections is no longer considered a valid agreement, this is no reason not to wish for a new deal, although the terms of reference may be the same.
Basha is yearning to be on the spotlight again after holding a meeting with the majority leader. And it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Rama fulfilled this little desire of his. A desire which will allow the leader of the DP to suppress the debate within his own camp through the image of the politician that imposes himself upon his opponent for talks and deals. This would also suit Rama, because with Basha in the roundtable and SMI outside of it, he reminds his former allies that the decision to leave the coalition left them defeated and lonely, because even in opposition, they remain exempted from Basha’s coalition.
Therefore, all the debates that have been going on so far, on new battles or the right of vote for expatriates, seem cynical when the scope is different. A meeting and a deal. It’s obvious that such incentives are being taken in a rush, because we still don’t see any projects on paper. What we have here are mere statements. And the most absurd of all things was the idea to restore the majority system. A system, which although Rama pretends he doesn’t want, suits the SP and its electoral structure. It suits the “tough ones” which will pour money in the constituency and will oblige political parties to make deals with local gangsters.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy